Yesterday Russia allowed the ninth devaluation of the ruble for the month, dragging down the value by 18% since August – however, against the dollar, the ruble has gained .08%. Russian economic officials report 1.6% GDP growth for November. Russia and the United States have signed a new meat and poultry agreement for 2009, allowing for Russia to cut back on imports and raise tariffs for supplies above quota. Wal-Mart has joined a retail lobbying group in Russia, which is a strong indication of the group’s interest of expanding in this market. The Central Bank has revoked the operating license of the bank Agrochim, which has failed to meet creditors’ demands – which is about the 20th bank to fail since August. Alfa Bank will lend $513.2 million to Russia’s Federal Grid Company, the state utility. Norilsk Nickel has bought back some of its own shares for $1.59 billion. Parlamat has rejected an offer to team up with Danone to expand into Russia – the Italians felt that the yogurt and milk production plants are too dispersed in this market.