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30.04.2015 17:08 Ruble Is Seen as Overvalued to 63% of Economists After Rally

The ruble is too strong after appreciating 14 percent in April, according to most of the economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Seventeen of the 27 analysts polled April 24-29 said the currency was overvalued, nine saw it near its “fundamental value” and one said it was still too weak. The ruble is staging its biggest monthly rally since 1993, buoyed by a cease-fire in Ukraine and a revival in the price of oil, Russia`s main export earner, as the peak of foreign debt repayment has passed. The ruble traded 0.1 percent weaker at 51.1120 against the dollar at 11:15 a.m. in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has used the ruble`s recovery in 2015 to highlight the resilience of his country`s economy in the face of international sanctions over Ukraine and last year`s plunge in oil prices. Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said April 17 that the currency`s “fundamental value” is close to 50 per dollar and predicted it would fluctuate around that level. “The ruble has not yet found its new equilibrium price,” Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, an economist at Berenberg Bank in Hamburg, Germany, said by e-mail. “We expect that the ruble will oscillate between 55 and 60 in the medium term.” Derivatives also suggest the ruble is more likely to weaken. There is a 48 percent probability of the currency depreciating 10 percent by June 30, and a 35 percent chance of a similar-sized gain, according to options data compiled by Bloomberg. The Russian currency tumbled 46 percent against the dollar last year before climbing 19 percent in 2015.

29.04.2015 19:25 U.S. economy grew at 0.2% pace in Q1 2015

The economy slowed significantly in the first quarter as cold weather, a strong dollar and shipping snags dampened activity. Gross domestic product - the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. - expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.2% in first quarter, the Commerce Department said. That`s down from 2.2% in the fourth quarter. The report was the government`s first estimate of first-quarter GDP. Two revised estimates, based on more complete data, will be published in May and June. First-quarter growth was substantially less than the 1% expected by economists surveyed by Action Economics. Analysts say the slowdown largely reflects temporary factors, such as harsh weather and a labor dispute at West Coast ports that hampered exports and delayed deliveries to factories and retailers. Other economic headwinds could linger, including a strong dollar that`s making U.S. goods more expensive for foreign buyers and a pullback in energy company investment amid a plunge in oil prices. Business investment, for example, fell 3.4% after increasing 4.4% in the previous quarter as the muscular greenback dented manufacturers` sales. And investment in non-residential structures plunged 23.1% in the quarter, in large part a consequence of the oil price slump, as energy companies sharply reduced the number of oil drilling rigs. Exports dropped 7.2% as manufacturers lost sales to other countries with more favorable currency exchange rates. Consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of economic activity, also slowed, growing 1.9% compared with 4.4% in the fourth quarter. Rough weather kept many shoppers at home. And government spending declined 0.8% as defense and state and local outlays all fell.

28.04.2015 21:58 Ruble Is in Good Shape, Russian Economy Is Not

Over the course of the winter a combination of rapidly falling oil prices, heightened geopolitical uncertainty and enormous private capital outflows contrived to create a palpable sense of panic in the Russian economy. A rebound for the ruble has now given Russia some respite and contributed to a more optimistic economic outlook, but it has also diverted attention away from the need to address the growing list of serious problems that face the country. These have not disappeared, whatever the ruble says. When the ruble plunged late last year and unemployment began to rise, the Russian government was forced to hastily cobble together an anti-crisis plan to restore economic confidence. Spring has now brought with it a renewed sense of calm. Since the end of January, oil prices stabilized, then rose slightly to their current levels. The Minsk II agreement, while fragile and only partially observed, at least appears to be preventing the conflict in southeast Ukraine from escalating any further. Capital outflows, which reached $77 billion in the final quarter of 2014, slowed down to $32 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Perhaps most notably, the ruble has reversed its downward trajectory to become one of the best-performing emerging market currencies in 2015. Such is the apparent turnaround in fortunes for the Russian economy that President Vladimir Putin was emboldened to declare in his recent annual call-in program that the economic crisis had been averted, and that the "peak of Russia`s problems" were now in the past. The ruble, which started the year trading at over 70 to the U.S. dollar, is now trading at around 50. Economic activity in the final quarter of 2014 was also better than expected, with gross domestic product expanding by a modest 0.3 percent when most analysts had forecast a contraction. Scratch the surface, however, and it is clear that on other economic indicators the picture is less benign. Prices continue to rise, with annualized inflation reaching nearly 17 percent in March. Industrial production, although boosted by the weak ruble, remains anemic. Investment, which as a proportion of GDP is already comparatively low, is falling rapidly, with a year-on-year decline of 5.3 percent registered in March.

27.04.2015 21:06 Russia`s Economy: Not Just Natural Resources

Russia`s economy doesn`t get a lot of love. It`s “Nigeria with snow,” “Burkina Faso with rockets,” or, in John McCain`s oft-repeated quip, “a gas station masquerading as a country.” To be sure, natural resources genuinely play a large role. It would be foolish (and inaccurate!) to try to totally discount the huge influence of companies like Gazprom, Rosneft, and several other state-run resource extractors. The Russian state`s finances really are based on the heavy taxation of energy producers, and the Kremlin would be in a world of trouble if the oil/gas spigot ever truly ran dry. But Russia, despite what you often hear, is more than just a gas station. It`s manufacturing and service sectors aren`t particularly competitive by world standards (very few people in North America are buying Russian cars) but they do exist. Using World Bank data on natural resource rents, officially defined as “the difference between the value of commodity production at world prices and total costs of production,” it`s instructive to compare Russia`s level to those in the members of OPEC, the prototypical petro states. Natural resource rents are a non-negligible percentage of Russian output. But these rents are nowhere near as high as in many of the world`s largest oil producers. Russian resource rents aren`t even particularly large compared to other post-Soviet states: Azerbaijan (36%), Kazakhstan (29%), and Uzbekistan (20.1%) all had proportionally larger rents. It`s also interesting to compare Russia`s actual GDP per capita with what it would have been if all natural resource rents were eliminated. Here, again, Russia just doesn`t appear to be particularly exceptional when compared to OPEC members.

24.04.2015 22:08 China`s economic growth hits 6-year low

A slump in the property market pushed Chinese economic growth down to 7 percent in the first three months of this year, its lowest quarterly pace since 2009. Premier Li Keqiang warned that the numbers were “not pretty” and that the country should brace for tougher times ahead. The housing slowdown has also hit heavy industries such as steel and cement, while falling global commodity prices have squeezed industrial profits. The government expects to be able to hold the line at 7 percent for 2015. That would be the lowest annual rate of growth in 25 years but still considerably faster than most major nations, and enough for the Communist Party to maintain its claim to sound economic leadership. Economists expect the government to cut interest rates further and bolster infrastructure spending in coming months to prevent a sharper slowdown, but officials acknowledge the risks to the economy have increased. “Economic data in the first quarter are not pretty,” Li told a seminar Tuesday, a day before the numbers were released, according to the official China Daily newspaper. “Traditional economic driving forces such as consumption and investment are diminishing, while new forces are not compensating.” Li said the nation should be prepared for greater downward pressure on the economy and increasing difficulties, although the premier expressed confidence about the economy`s long-term prospects.

23.04.2015 16:22 Russia Sees GDP Growth Restart in the Fourth Quarter of 2015

Russia`s economy may return to growth in the fourth quarter after its first recession in six years, government officials said on Thursday April 23. Gross domestic product may expand 2.3 percent in 2016 after a contraction estimated at 2.8 percent this year, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said at a cabinet meeting in Moscow. The ministry, which previously forecast this year`s decline at 3 percent, is seeing signs of financial and macroeconomic stabilization after GDP slumped 2.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, Ulyukayev said. The economy of the world`s biggest energy exporter is weathering the effects of a currency crisis that followed last year`s crash in oil prices and sanctions imposed over Ukraine. After the steepest four-day slump since January, the ruble is resuming an advance that made it the best-performer globally this year. “The dynamics of the real sector are turning out to be not as catastrophic as it seemed to most experts and, truth be told, to us as well at the end of last year and the beginning of this one,” Ulyukayev said.

22.04.2015 13:09 Russia`s economy contracted about 2 percent in the first quarter

Russia`s economy contracted about 2 percent in the first quarter on an annual basis, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said blaming the slump on the unprecedented challenges from a plunge in oil prices and sanctions imposed over Ukraine. Russia`s industrial production dropped by 0.4 percent in the first quarter. The downturn was “most acute” at end-2014 and the start of this year and the situation is now “stabilizing,” Medvedev told lawmakers at the lower house of parliament in Moscow on April 21. The decline in gross domestic product is the first since a contraction in 2009. “There should be no illusions,” Medvedev said. “Today we face not only short-term crisis effects: if external pressure increases while oil prices remain at an extremely low level for a long time, we`ll have to develop in a different economic reality, which will test our strength in full.” The economy of the world`s largest energy exporter is entering a recession after an almost 50 per cent crash in oil prices and the rouble`s worst crisis since 1998. Sanctions enacted by the US and the European Union over the conflict in Ukraine curbed access to international financial markets and stoked capital outflows. Even with a tenuous ceasefire in Ukraine and stabilizing oil prices, the central bank predicts that the economy will shrink as much as 4 per cent this year.

21.04.2015 16:10 Why the Ruble Rally Has Run Its Course

A few months ago, it seemed like Russia was doomed. The West had just imposed sanctions, crude prices crashed, and the Ukrainian situation deteriorated. Because of all the concerns, capital left Russia en masse and the Russian ruble cratered, going from 35 rubles to the dollar to 80 rubles to the dollar. Today, the ruble is one of the best performing currencies in the world, having rallied 15% against the dollar year to-date. Because of the rally, Russia`s currency now trades at a respectable 53 rubles to the dollar. One big reason for the rally is that the Russian economy is doing better than expected. Despite the plunge in crude prices from August to December, the economy grew a surprise 0.4% in fourth-quarter 2014. Because crude prices have since stabilized, Russia`s GDP won`t shrink as much as expected in 2015, while many economists expect the Russian economy will expand in 2016. Another reason for the rally is that capital is flowing back into Russia. Because the ruble has done so well, bond managers feel that they have to buy the Russian bonds in their chase for performance. The ruble`s rise may soon end, however.

20.04.2015 17:16 G-20 Warns of Threats to Global Economic Recovery

The world`s top finance leaders warned that currency volatility, low inflation and high debt levels threaten to undermine an already uneven global economic recovery. In an official statement after two days of meetings, finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 largest economies backed more easy-money policies in wealthy nations as critical accelerants for growth. “In many advanced economies, accommodative monetary policies are needed to anchor inflation expectations and support recovery,” the G-20 said. The G-20 affirmed its support for central-bank stimulus in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Officials are increasingly worried that the global economy could get stuck in a long period of anemic output, given a weak recovery in some rich countries and a slowdown in many of the largest emerging markets that have been key drivers of global growth.

19.04.2015 20:59 Five reasons to be upbeat on world`s economy

Gloom will be on plentiful display in Washington this week when finance ministers and central bankers from around the world gather for economic parleying. The International Monetary Fund, which hosts its spring meetings with the World Bank, has warned of prolonged lower growth that will keep debt high - and could pave the way for another global financial crisis. Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, who regularly uses these occasions to parade her worries, will once again be front and center as global Cassandra-in-chief. However, there are five good reasons why the doomsayers are overdoing it. 1) The U.S. is powering its way to recovery, with a generally favorable influence on the rest of the world. 2) The fall in oil prices is almost universally good news for the world economy. 3) News from emerging market economies - despite slower growth - is positive. 4) The firm dollar has been a boon for most countries. 5) Modest growth is resuming in Europe, still home to many of the world`s most technologically adept companies and much R&D brainpower.


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