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Russia's central bank frets over oil price and sanctions pressure

Russian lawmakers working on one-year draft budget, delaying considerations beyond 2017.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russia's central bank frets over oil price and sanctions pressure
Low oil prices and restrictions to foreign capital means basic structures of Russian economy are fragile, the head of the Russian Central Bank said. Photo by DyMax/Shutterstock

MOSCOW, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Lower crude oil prices and restricted access to foreign capital markets means dwindling funds for Russia, the country's central bank chief said.

Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Russian Central Bank, said Friday the general bank portfolio quality in Russia was diminishing under the strains on the economy. Lending is moving in some sectors, though the share of overdue loans on the books is increasing across the board.

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The bank in September said it was keeping its key interest rate at 11 percent because of the risks of high inflation and "persistent" cooling in the Russian economy. Lower crude oil prices hurt exporting economies like Russia's and, last week, Nabiullina said there may be a prolonged downturn ahead.

On Friday, the bank's chief said sanctions that restrict Russian access to foreign markets and pressure from lower crude oil prices meant reductions in currency funds.

"The decline of oil prices together with restriction of the access of Russian banks to foreign borrowings leads to reduction of currency funds," she was quoted by state news agency ITAR-Tass as saying. "According to our estimate, the flow of funds decreases by about $200 billion in annual terms."

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Inflation is still running in the double digits, she said, but should show signs of recovery by next year.

Russian finance officials said Friday they started a review of a draft budget for 2016 that has annual inflation at 6.4 percent, gross domestic product growth at 0.7 percent and oil priced at $50 a barrel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October that the economy has reached the "peak of the crisis" and that policymakers were adapting to new economic circumstances.

Lawmakers said they're working on drafting a one-year budget, delaying considerations beyond 2017.

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