Russia Monthly Economic Developments

Global activity appears to be stabilizing, with manufacturing activity in both the United States and China improving in the beginning of 2019. Crude oil prices rose 4 percent in March, extending their recovery since the start of 2019. Prices continued to increase in April, with Brent crude oil reaching $72/bbl and WTI Cushing reaching $64/bbl. The ruble average exchange rate strengthened to 65.1 against the U.S. dollar, gaining 1.6 percent in March compared to the previous month. In the first quarter of 2019, Russia’s current account strengthened, albeit slightly, compared to the same period last year, as import values contracted and investment income payments decreased. After picking up in February, industrial production growth slowed down in March. Labor market dynamics were stable in February. In March, annual consumer inflation accelerated to 5.3 percent, y/y, up from 5.2 percent, y/y, in February, but inflation has most probably passed its peak value. On March 22nd, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) kept the policy rate unchanged at 7.75 percent in annual terms. On the back of stronger non-oil revenues, the federal budget surplus improved to 2.2 percent of GDP in the first quarter of 2019 from 1.8 percent of GDP in the same period last year. The trend towards growth in both retail and corporate segments credits continued in February. Further, key credit risk and performance indicators remained largely stable.


Apurva Sanghi

Lead Economist for the Russian Federation

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