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Russian Rail Said to Cut Cargo Target as Economic Growth Slows

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May 6 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Russian Railways changed its 2013 cargo forecast to a decline after volumes fell for five months and the Economy Ministry lowered its industrial output target for the year, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Freight volumes will probably drop 2.4 percent this year, compared with a previously expected increase of 0.7 percent, the people said, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to comment on the matter.

Russia reduced forecasts for economic expansion to 2.4 percent this year and industrial output growth to 2 percent from previous estimates, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach said in April. The country may slide into a recession as early as the autumn unless it adopts stimulus measures, as the nation’s largest companies cut investment programs, Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said later last month.

About 85 percent of Russia’s freight, excluding products transported by pipeline, is shipped by rail making volumes a proxy for changes in output, according to VTB Capital.

Russian Railways’ cargo volumes fell 3.5 percent in April, a fifth month of decline, according to an e-mailed statement from the state-run rail monopoly today.

This year’s cargo forecast was revised after volumes deteriorate in the first four months and with oil volumes set to fall after the expansion of a pipeline across East Siberia, RIA Novosti’s Prime news service reported today, citing Yelena Kunayeva, a Russian Railways official. The company’s press service declined to comment on her forecast.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Moscow at eshatalova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Torrey Clark at tclark8@bloomberg.net; Denis Maternovsky at dmaternovsky@bloomberg.net

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