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MOSCOW, April 27 (Reuters) - Net income at Russian gas giant Gazprom jumped 21 percent last year to a forecast-beating 951.64 billion roubles ($16.7 billion) thanks to lower costs and a stronger rouble, the company's results issued on Thursday showed.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected Gazprom's full-year net income to be 929 billion roubles.
The rouble's appreciation brought down Gazprom's payments of debt denominated in foreign currency. In 2016, the U.S. dollar weakened 17 percent versus the rouble, while the euro lost a fifth of its value against the Russian currency.
Gazprom said its net debt declined by 7 percent in 2016 to 1.93 trillion roubles.
"Half of Gazprom's earnings, or around 454 billion roubles, in 2016 was provided by foreign-currency revenues thanks to the stronger rouble," Alexander Kornilov from Moscow-based Aton brokerage told Reuters.
Gazprom's shares were down 0.27 percent by 0745 GMT, outperforming the broader Moscow market, which fell 0.65 percent.
Gazprom said it had significantly boosted its gas sales volumes to Europe, taking advantage of colder weather and weak prices. Last year, its gas supplies to Europe and Turkey reached an all-time high of 179 billion cubic metres.
The company's sales rose to 6.11 trillion roubles in 2016 from 6.07 trillion roubles in 2015.
$1 = 57.0100 roubles Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Oksana Kobzeva; Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Dale Hudson