Russia Monthly Economic Developments

Incoming data confirms that global growth lost momentum in 2018, driven by a noticeable deceleration in both advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). The loss of momentum was particularly pronounced in manufacturing amid signs of softening global investment and trade. The global manufacturing PMI suggests continued weakness in January and February 2019, with the index falling to its lowest level since mid-2016. After rising 8 percent in February, crude oil prices continued to increase in March this year: The price of Brent, the international marker, reached $68/bbl by the middle of the month, and WTI, the U.S. benchmark, increased to $58/bbl. In February, the Russian ruble gained 2.2 percent compared to the previous month, supported by the easing of global financing conditions, higher oil prices, and a relatively lower risk perception. Russia’s economic growth was weak in January with output in five basic sectors1 increasing by 0.2 percent, y/y, compared to a 1.9 percent growth, y/y, in December 2018. In February, annual consumer inflation accelerated to 5.2 percent, y/y, up from 5.0 percent, y/y, in January. Monthly inflation growth decelerated across all categories in February, sa, as January experienced the most intense VAT-pass-through effect. Labor market dynamics were stable in January, and real wages continued to grow but only increased by 0.2 percent compared to the same period in 2018. The federal budget balance improved in January compared to the same period last year on the back of stronger non-oil revenues. Credit expansion continued into 2019, but the fast-paced expansion in household credit could pose a risk to financial stability if the macroeconomic environment were to deteriorate. Key credit risk and performance indicators remained largely stable in early 2019.


Apurva Sanghi

Lead Economist for the Russian Federation

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