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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

VTB Capital predicts economic decline after February in Russia

Vladimir Kolychev and Daria Isakova, analysts for VTB Capital, said on Friday that they did not expect the positive economic data for February to be sustained in the next few months.

According to economic data published by Rosstat, Russia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in February, though unemployment remained at 5.6 percent.

Real retail sales growth nearly doubled to 4.1 percent, primarily in the non-food component. Non-food retail sales posted a 13-month high annual gain of 6.4 percent, compared to 3.4 percent in January.

Investment in fixed capital remained under water but its decline halved to 3.5 percent year-over-year. Construction also lessened its drop to 2.4 percent year-over-year. In January, construction suffered a significant 5.4 percent year-over-year decline.

Russia's real wage growth increased to 6.0 percent year-over-year, up from the upwardly revised figure in January of 5.2 percent year-over-year.

Kolychev and Isakova said the numbers were encouraging.

"The raft of economic data for February has provided grounds to be upbeat, topping expectations across the board," Kolychev and Isakova said. "This can partly be attributed to Olympics spending, as well as households rushing to buy foreign cars and other imported goods before prices rise."

Despite the uptick, Kolychev and Isakova predicted more difficult times in Russia moving forward.

"Looking ahead, we do not expect this uptick to be sustained in the coming months, as the policy mix remains contractionary, while geopolitical tensions have dented business and consumer sentiment," Kolychev and Isakova said. "Policy-wise, the report will have likely provided additional comfort to the (Central Bank of Russia) in its wait-and-see stance."