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Russian Retail Sales Beat Expectations as Unemployment Falls

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Russian retail sales advanced at a faster rate than economists predicted in November as unemployment fell and real wages grew, tempering concerns about slowing economic growth.

Retail sales grew 4.5 percent from a year earlier after a revised 3.6 percent increase in October, the Moscow-based Federal Statistics Service said today in an e-mailed statement. That’s more than the 3.3 percent median forecast of 17 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The jobless rate dropped to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent, beating the median estimate of 16 economists for a 5.6 percent increase.

The world’s biggest energy exporter is struggling with the worst economic slowdown since 2009. The central bank left its benchmark interest rate at 5.5 percent on Dec. 13 as inflation quickened to 6.5 percent, half a percentage point more than the regulator’s target. The economy will probably grow 1.4 percent this year, according to Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach.

“This is more proof that despite everything, consumer spending is doing very well, supported by low unemployment, which is close to zero in large Russian cities,” said Vladimir Miklashevsky, an economist at Danske Bank A/S in Helsinki. “Except for private consumption, the data doesn’t look inspiring at the moment. Fixed investments remain too low to help get economic growth to more than 1.5 percent in 2013.”

Stocks, Ruble

The Micex Index of 50 stocks rose 0.3 percent to 1,479 by 3:55 p.m. in Moscow. The ruble appreciated 0.1 percent to 32.9435 per dollar.

Real wages advanced 4.8 percent from a year earlier in November following a revised 5.4 percent increase the previous month. Real disposable income grew 1.5 percent after a revised 5.3 percent jump in October.

Rising incomes are helping companies such as OAO Magnit, Russia’s biggest food retailer by market value, which said sales increased 29 percent from a year earlier in November as it opened 181 new stores.

“Russia’s growth model looks more dependent on consumption than it was before,” Alfa Bank economists including Natalia Orlova said yesterday in an e-mailed note.

Investment grew for the first time in four months, advancing 0.2 percent from a year earlier after a 1.9 percent drop in October.

To contact the reporter on this story: Milda Seputyte in Vilnius at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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