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Russia Economy – July 2013

Source: OPEC 7/31/2013, Location: Asia

Manufacturing growth, as shown by the HSBC manufacturing PMI, exhibited better performance in June as it rose for the first time since the beginning of the year. This came after the 1.4% y-o-y slide in May‘s industrial production. The PMI rose from 50.4 in May to 51.7 in June, its four-month best reading. This notable development indicates better new orders, higher domestic demand and a slight increase in export orders.

Unemployment slid in May to its lowest rate since September 2012 to 5.2% from 5.6% the previous month. The unemployment rate stayed no higher than 6% for 14 months. This positive trend, however, may not sustain amid official signals of the need to reduce the government workforce for the sake of enhancing productivity and curbing operational costs. Russia‘s public sector employs around one quarter of the total labour force.

Similar to what other emerging and developing economies experienced last month, Russia suffered from difficulties in bond sales ? ruble-denominated assets ? actually cancelling two auctions last month due to a lack of competitive bids amid a hike in borrowing costs, stemming from mounting speculation over the US Fed‘s potential to taper off its asset purchasing programme aimed at stimulating the economy. This unexpected hurdle, if it continues, would further restrict the federal budget, which was running a surplus last year until November. It moved into deficit territory in December on a traditional spending surge.

Inflation, measured by y-o-y consumer price, increased to 7.38% in May from April‘s 7.23% while official figures indicated a deceleration in consumer spending and disposable incomes in the same month. Real disposable income slipped 1.3% from a year earlier after a revised 7.5% perk up in April. Retail sales rose 2.9% from a year earlier compared to a 4.1% climb in April.

Capital investment experienced no change in the first quarter over last year. In the meantime, first-quarter exports of crude oil, oil products and natural gas cooled by 6.3%, 5.5% and 1.6% from last year‘s first quarter, respectively. That said, it seems that global commodity prices are exerting a downward pressure on export growth, a central source of revenue.

This year‘s GDP projection has been revised down by 0.3 percentage points to 2.6% this month due to not-so-promising total investment development and slowing first quarter export revenues, especially from crude oil, oil products and natural gas. It is expected that the Russian economy will recover and grow by 3.0% in 2014.

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