Russian economy shows signs of growth


Russia's economy grew 0.5 per cent in July month-on-month, data showed today, giving hope the recession might be coming to its end, but officials warned it is too soon to say the crisis is over.

Investors are looking for signs of green shoots after low oil prices, falling world demand for its exports, investor risk aversion over emerging markets and the global credit crunch pushed Russia into its first recession in a decade this year.

"In July we can say with greater certainty that the overall slowdown in the economy has ended, and it is moving to a phase of reanimation," deputy economy minister Andrei Klepach -- the first official to admit the economy was in recession last December -- told reporters.

"But the recovery is neither surefooted nor intense. In this sense, as they say in the West, the recession is over but the crisis remains."

The comments chime with first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, who told reporters on a visit to the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude that economic growth had resumed but it remained to be seen how well it would hold up.

There was also some good news on the corporate front, with Russia's second-biggest oil firm, Lukoil securing a $1.2 billion loan from 12 foreign banks in further proof that international debt markets are starting to thaw.

July's economic growth, unadjusted for seasonal effects, follows a smaller month-on-month increase in June, Mr Kleapch said.

In year-on-year terms, Russia's economy is not expected to return to growth until 2010 due to the steepness of the contraction it has experienced so far. GDP shrank 9.3 per cent in July -- its smallest year-on-year contraction since February.

June's fall was revised to 10.1 per cent from 9.6 per cent.