Russia Output & Demand - February; enjoy cheerful data while it lasts
Rosstat has published its February statistics pack on economic conditions.
Unemployment remained at 5.6%. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%.
Real retail sales growth almost doubled, to 4.1%, mainly due to the non-food component, which posted a 13-month high annual gain of 6.4% (vs. 3.4% in January).
Investment in fixed capital remained under water, but the pace of its decline halved to 3.5% YoY.
Construction simultaneously softened its drop to 2.4% YoY, after a significant 5.4% YoY decline a month ago.
Real wage growth edged up to 6.0% YoY, from the upwardly revised figure in January (to 5.2 YoY).
The raft of economic data for February has provided grounds to be upbeat, topping expectations across the board. This can partly be attributed to Olympics spending, as well as households rushing to buy foreign cars and other imported goods before prices rise. Looking ahead, we do not expect this uptick to be sustained in the coming months, as the policy mix remains contractionary, while geopolitical tensions have dented business and consumer sentiment. Policy-wise, the report will have likely provided additional comfort to the CBR in its wait-and-see stance.
Vladimir Kolychev, Daria Isakova
VTB Capital analyst
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