Yesterday, Rosstat published the regular monthly statistics pack on economic conditions during January. The unemployment rate jumped to 6.0% from 5.3% in December. Real retail sales growth slowed to 3.5% YoY from 5.0% YoY in December 2012 on the back of a deceleration in both food and non-food components (to 0.9% YoY from 2.0% YoY and to 5.9% YoY from 7.8% YoY, respectively). Investment increased 1.1% YoY in January, following a 0.7% YoY decline in December. At the same time, construction growth slid 0.2pp to 1.4% YoY last month and railway cargo turnover contracted further, with a 7.3% YoY decline following the 1.2% YoY contraction a month ago. Real and nominal wages grew 8.0% YoY and 15.6% YoY in January, vs. 5.0% YoY and 11.9% YoY a month ago.
Russia’s economic statistics remained weak in January, in line with our expectations, furthering the argument for monetary easing. Our main concerns are with the retail sales slowdown and the increase in SA unemployment (that we believe has likely brought to a close the puzzle of unemployment, which had been growing amid a faltering economy). An uptick in real wages growth, coupled with an increase in investment, were in our view the only positives of the report.
Maxim Oreshkin, Daria Isakova
VTB Capital analyst
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