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Diamond miner Alrosa reports 60% sales fall as coronavirus hits trade

Diamonds are pictured during an official presentation by diamond producer Alrosa in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian diamond producer Alrosa on Friday reported a 60% fall in March sales versus a year earlier citing the spread of the coronavirus for the fall in demand.

The virus also hit the diamond trade, which traditionally involves a lot of travelling, with border closures and quarantine measures across the world.

The world's largest producer of rough diamonds by carats tried to offset the crisis partially by offering options for online trade and relaxed payment terms for its contracts in March.

However, March sales still fell 56% versus February and long-term contracts with several customers were terminated as they switched to spot purchases, the state-controlled company said in a statement.

"In this turbulent environment, the situation at the start and at the end of our trading session in March was completely different," Alrosa said.

It refrained from any projections for April, saying only that there are hopes that demand in the Chinese market will be the first to start recovering as China eases quarantine measures.


(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Anastasia Lyrchikova; editing by Jane Merriman and Jason Neely)