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Today in Russian Business – Feb 13, 2012

Despite ongoing high oil prices, the budget saw a deficit in Januaryfor the first time since the early 2000s.’  This year’s freezing temperatures and lack of snow will likely have adverse effects on this year’s fruit harvest, which could lose 10-30% of apples and plums, and up to 50% of its vineyard harvest.  Hotel rates during the Sochi Olympics will be capped at $160-240 – below market prices.  Ukraine has reiterated that it won’t join a customs union with Russia whilst disagreements over natural gas contracts persist.  Rusal may cut aluminium output by 6% over the next year and a half.  The volume of mortgage loans in Russia has reached a record high at $24 billion in 2011 due to banks lowering their rates.