Post-February Russia. 24 economic data paint a mixed picture

Retail sales, which reflect consumer demand, Russia’s main economic driver, fell 9.7% year-on-year in April after rising 2.2% in March, while economists polled by Reuters had on average predicts a decline of 6.8%, according to data from Rosstat. statistics service showed.

The decline in retail sales, however, was expected after a massive buying spree after Feb. 24, as households stocked up on a wide range of goods expecting the ruble’s depreciation and sanctions western ones drive prices up.

But weekly consumer inflation was 0.0% last week after modest deflation over the previous seven days, reflecting sluggish consumer demand and opening the door for further interest rate cuts by the bank. central to making loans cheaper to support the economy.

This is in line with the latest Reuters poll of analysts from late May which marked an improvement in economic expectations after the central bank last cut its benchmark rate by 300 basis points to 11% at an off-schedule meeting in May before June 10. scheduled pricing meeting.

Industrial production fell 1.6% in April, data showed on Wednesday, after growing 3% in March, in line with expectations that unprecedented Western sanctions will hurt Russia’s economy.

But the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to a record low of 4.0% in April, from 4.1% in March.

The data showed with a month lag that real wages, which are adjusted for inflation, rose in March by 3.6% contrary to Reuters poll expectations which called for a decline of 4.5%.

The Reuters poll showed in late May that Russia’s economy will contract less than expected this year and inflation will be weaker than expected, even as what Moscow calls a ‘special military’ operation in Ukraine entered its fourth month. .

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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