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Russia Economy in December 2014

Source: OPEC 12/15/2014, Location: Asia

In November 2014, the ruble experienced its steepest depreciation since January 2009. It fell nearly 13% last month compared to the US dollar. This means the currency lost 30.4% of its value between July and November 2014. Inflation increased for the third consecutive month in October reaching 8.3% y-o-y. Inflation is expected to continue rising in the subsequent months on the back of persistent depreciating in the currency. The central bank’s interest rate hike of 150 basis points to 9.50% in November did little to support the currency and controlling inflation.

The unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month to 5.1% in October 2014 from 4.9% in September. Nominal wages rose at a slower 8.6% y-o-y in October, following a revised 9.7% increase in September. Real wages increased 0.3% and real disposable income grew 2.1%. The manufacturing sector posted last month stronger growth of production and new business. The HSBC manufacturing PMI rose from 50.4 in October to 51.7 in November, a 13-month high. The latest reading of the index is the fifth consecutive in expansionary territory. The survey also showed the weakening currency drove up manufacturer’s input prices. On the other hand, the services sector experienced a stronger fall in activity in November together with accelerating inflationary pressures. The HSBC Russia services business activity index fell to a five-and-a-half year low of 44.5 in November from 49.1 in October.

Anticipation of GDP growth in 2014 is unchanged at 0.3%, while 2015’s figure is slightly lower this month at 0.7%, down from the 0.9% previously predicted. Even so, the risk to this month’s 2015 GDP growth forecast remains skewed to the downside. The situation of no positive breakthrough in the geopolitical arena and an abating outlook of the country’s trade balance next year could, if continued, the current forecast for GDP growth in 2015 of 0.7% could be revised down considerably next month.

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