Russian consumer confidence improved from the lowest level in 1 1/2 years last quarter as the jobless rate held near record lows.
The consumer confidence index rose one point to minus 7 from minus 8 in the final three months of last year, the Federal Statistics Service in Moscow said in an e-mailed statement today. The increase came from “positive trends” in all of the index’s components, according to the statement.
Economic growth in Russia, which relies on household spending for about half of its output, slowed to 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter as sagging domestic demand compounded the effects of struggling investment and weaker export sales. Policy makers left their main interest rates unchanged this month as unemployment remains near a record low and inflation holds above the central bank’s target of 5 percent to 6 percent.
The labor market is a source of optimism, as it “gives hope for real wages growth,” Vladimir Miklashevsky, an economist at Danske Bank A/S in Helsinki, said by e-mail before the release. Still, weaker retail sales would limit gains, as would higher retail borrowing costs, he said.
Unemployment on a seasonally adjusted level was 5.3 percent in the first two months of the year, meaning there is little room for monetary easing, central bank Chairman Sergey Ignatiev said in a speech April 3.
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