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Russian reserves advance for 11th week, surge to $303.9 bln

Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves surged for an 11th week as the nation heads for a ninth year of economic growth.

The reserves advanced to a record $303.9 billion in the week ended January 5, compared with $299.2 billion on December 22, the central bank said in an e-mailed statement today. The reserves rose to $303 billion in the week ended December 29. The central bank released both figures for the week ended December 29 and the week ended January 5 today. Russia, the world's biggest energy exporter, has benefited from an oil price boom that underpinned economic growth and helped swell its foreign currency reserves from $12 billion in 1998. Oil prices reached a record $78.40 a barrel on July 14. Crude oil for February delivery fell as much as $1.08, or 2%, to $52.94 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

China has the world's biggest foreign currency reserves, totaling $987.93 billion as of September 30, according to Bloomberg data. Japan has the second-largest, totaling $875.95 billion as of November 30. The nation's Stabilization Fund, in which it diverts some of the revenue from oil that's priced above $27 a barrel, surged 90% in 2006 to 2.35 trillion rubles, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. Last month, the Moscow-based Economy Ministry increased its forecast for 2006 economic growth to 6.8%, faster than its initial 6.6% estimate. (Bloomberg)