Russia suggests further rate cuts possible

The chief of the Russian central bank pegged economic recovery to a floor price of $40 per barrel for oil.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   April 20, 2017 at 8:53 AM
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April 20 (UPI) -- As the economic situation "inspires hope," the head of the central bank in oil-rich Russia said Thursday that rate cuts are a possibility for the fiscal year.

Russian Central Bank Chief Elvira Nabiullina said Thursday inflation was stabilizing at around 4.1 percent for April, which is almost near the benchmark.

"A quicker decline in inflation opens the scope for reduction of the key rate already in April, and I even admit that the key rate reduction by between 25 and 50 basis points may be considered at the next board meeting in a week," she was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.

Russia's economy lingered in recession last year and the national currency, the ruble, declined in value after crude oil prices dipped below $30 per barrel. Oil prices have been fluid this year, trading in a range of around $45 per barrel to $55 per barrel, still about half the price from three years ago.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, told Tass earlier this week the response from Moscow to the economic shock of lower crude oil prices was "very comprehensive."

In its first rate cut since September, the bank in March lowered its key lending rate by a quarter percent to 9.75 percent per year. Nabiullina said policymakers viewed an inflationary target of 4 percent as achievable if the right measures are in place.

"We'll further pursue moderately tough monetary policy in order to see inflation stabilized at around 4 percent and a sustainable reduction of inflationary expectations," she said.

Nabiullina said the national economy is becoming less dependent on crude oil prices, but stressed momentum would be on the positive side of growth provided oil prices stay above $40 per barrel.

Russia is party to a multilateral deal, led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, that calls for a ceiling on crude oil production in an effort to balance the market. After the deal was brokered in November, Nabiullina said recovery for the Russian economy will be slow with only minor growth for gross domestic product expected this year.

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