Today in Russian Business – May 8, 2009

The stock market has reached a seven-month high, amid optimistic economic predictions and rising oil prices. The Russian banking system can apparently remain stable as long as there is less than 20% foreign debt.  A ‘stress test’ by the Central Bank has shown that lenders will be able to survive even if the price of oil drops to as little as $25 a barrel.  The Russian beer market, normally seen as an area of growth for global companies, has slumped as consumption decreases.  Consumer sights are not turning to alcohol-free beverages, apparently demand for soft drinks has waned too.  The Central Bank intends to swap copper coins for steel coins, in a move to economize.  Transneft has claimed it gave more than $30 million away last year in charitable donations.  The Ukrainian lending section of Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group has said its inability to pay bondholders is due to the Central Bank’s currency ‘restrictions’.  Ukraine’s Central Bank has retaliated by saying the reason is ‘artificial’ and may shake Ukraine’s currency market