Bank of Russia Decided to Keep Key Rate at 11.0 Percent
The annual pace of consumer price growth in October 2016 is estimated to be under 7% and expected to total 4% in 2017. As inflation slows down in line with the forecast, the Bank of Russia will continue with a downward revision of its key rate, at one of its forthcoming Board of Directors meetings. In making its rate decisions, the Bank of Russia will be guided by changes in the balance between inflation risks and the risks of economy cooling.
Between September and October, annual inflation was slightly down. According to the Bank of Russia's estimates, annual consumer prices grew at 15.6% as of 26 October, and at 15.8% in August. Inflation expectations, though having decreased as compared with September, remain elevated. The moderately tight monetary policy and the weak domestic demand driven by the low growth of the nominal income of the population, help constrain the growth of consumer prices.
The moderately tight monetary conditions are also exerting downward pressure on prices. Money supply (M2) growth rates remain low. Influenced by the Bank of Russia's previous key rate reductions, lending and deposit rates remain on a downward trend. These still remain on the level which, on the one hand, serves to keep ruble savings attractive and, on the other hand, given sustaining high debt burden and tight creditworthiness requirements, is a factor behind low annual lending expansion.
September saw a somewhat slower economic downturn, evidenced by key macroeconomic indicators. While structural factors are still curbing economic growth, the current output contraction is also of a cyclical nature. However, the negative demographic trends keep unemployment low, while the labour market is adjusting to the new conditions, largely through a decline in real wages and wider part-time employment. These factors, along with low retail lending, will further contain consumer spending. Fixed capital investment will continue to be weak amid persistent economic uncertainty and relatively tough lending conditions.
Investment demand is expected to be constrained by limited potential substitution of external finance with domestic one, following the narrow nature of the Russian financial market and high corporate debt load. Investment is likely to be supported somewhat by the governmental turnaround programme. Weak investment and consumer activity will cause low demand for imports. As a result, net exports will be a positive contributor to the annual output growth. Going forward, the economic situation will depend on the global energy prices and the pace of economy's adjustment to external shocks.
The slack domestic demand and the moderately tight monetary conditions will drag down annual inflation in 2016-2017. A slowdown in the annual consumer price growth will create prerequisites for decrease in inflation expectations. In early 2016, annual inflation is expected to decline considerably due to, among other factors, its high value in early 2015. The Bank of Russia forecasts the annual consumer price growth to be under 7% in October 2016, on track to reach the 4% target in 2017, facilitated by the current monetary policy. As inflation slows down in line with the forecast, the Bank of Russia Board of Directors will continue with a downward revision of its key rate, at one of its forthcoming meetings.
Key sources of inflation risks include a further worsening of external climate, persistently high inflation expectations and an upward revision, planned for2016-2017, of rates and prices in the regulated sector, upward revision of social payments indexation, as well as overall budget policy easing.
In making its subsequent decisions, the Bank of Russia will be guided by changes in the balance between inflation risks and the risks of economy cooling.
The Bank of Russia will hold its next rate review meeting on 11 December 2015.