Russia Economy in May 2015

Source: OPEC 5/15/2015, Location: Asia

The ruble appreciated by 11.6% against the dollar in April, marking the second month of higher value following eight months of depreciation. As a result, the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a bigger-than-expected 150 bp to 12.5% in April. Inflation continued rising in March, increasing 16.9% y-o-y. Inflation has increased by more than 10% y-o-y every month since December 2014. However, according to the Bank of Russia’s forecast, consumer price growth will slow down faster than expected. Annual inflation will fall to less than 8% for the April 2016 to April 2015 period.

Industrial production shrank by 0.6% y-o-y in March, following a 1.6% y-o-y contraction in February. Real disposable income was 1.8% lower y-o-y in March, continuing a streak of declines since November 2014. For the third consecutive month, retail sales showed an increasing contraction, falling by 8.7% y-o-y in March, following 7.2% and 3.9% in January and February, respectively. Sales of food products declined 7.5% y-o-y in March, while non-food sales dropped 9.9%. A contraction in retail sales prior to 2014 was last reported in December 2009. The unemployment rate increased for the seventh consecutive month in March to 5.9%, the highest since January 2013.

The appreciation of the ruble against the US dollar and a significant contraction in consumer demand in the February to April period could both help ease inflationary pressures and lead to a stabilization in the currency’s rate of increase in the coming months. However, it is not expected that inflation will markedly ease before 2016. Given that the dynamics of the country’s principal macroeconomic indicators show considerable GDP contraction in 1Q15, the GDP growth forecast is unchanged this month at -3.2% for 2015.


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