Russian weekly consumer prices climb ahead of central bank rate decision
MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia recorded a rise in weekly consumer prices, extending the previous week's gain, data from statistics service Rosstat showed on Wednesday, cementing expectations the central bank will give a hawkish signal as it holds rates on Friday.
The consumer price index rose 0.26% in the week to Feb. 6, the Rosstat federal statistics service said, up from a 0.21% rise a week earlier. So far this year, prices are up 1%.
Separately, the economy ministry said inflation was running at an annualised rate of 11.72% as of Feb. 6, up from 11.50% a week earlier.
The central bank is widely expected to hold its key interest rate at 7.5% on Friday, but to imply future rate increases could be necessary as inflationary risks become more pronounced.
It aims to return inflation to its 4% target by 2024 and has forecast inflation will fall to between 5% and 7% this year.
"The regulator has consistently talked about the prevalence of proinflationary risks and, probably, will note them this time too," said Alfa Capital portfolio manager Evgeny Zhornist.
"However...there is no reason to move to an increase in the key rate," he added, explaining that the risks were similar to those seen when the Bank of Russia last met in December.
One headache for the central bank is Russia's widening budget deficit, caused by reduced energy revenues and soaring expenditure, which stood at almost $25 billion in January alone, as sanctions and the cost of Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine choke the economy's prospects.
Annual inflation for 2022 was 11.9%. Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov has said he expects inflation to fall substantially by the end of the first quarter, with the second quarter figure below the 4% target.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Darya Korsunskaya; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Jane Merriman)