Russia February Manufacturing Grows at Unchanged Pace, HSBC Says

Russian manufacturing expanded at the same pace in February as a month earlier, signaling that growth was “broadly maintained,” HSBC Holdings Plc. said.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index remained at 52 for a second month after slipping to 50 in December, HSBC said today in an e-mailed statement, citing data compiled by London-based Markit Economics. A value above 50 indicates an improvement in business conditions, while a result below that suggests a deterioration. The median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey was 51.25.

Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, is counting on domestic demand to shore up growth as Europe’s recession saps demand for exported commodities. Economists cut their estimates for Russia’s expansion by half a percentage point last month after industrial output contracted for the first time in more than three years.

“Manufacturing is still alive and keeps growing moderately, but fears of uncertain outlook weigh on the sector performance,” Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia at HSBC in Moscow, said in the statement. “These fears are somewhat exaggerated, although stagnating export demand gives reasons for concern.”

New orders grew at a “strong” pace, driven by domestic orders, according to the statement. New export orders “stagnated,” in line with a trend since the second half of last year. Manufacturers cut jobs for a fourth straight month, though the decline in February was “marginal,” HSBC said.

The Micex Manufacturing Index was little changed as of 11:02 a.m. in Moscow, while the broader Micex Index of 50 stocks tumbled 0.6 percent to 1,477.11. A close at that level would be the lowest since Dec. 28.

Russian Railways, the state-run rail monopoly, said today cargo volumes in February fell 3.2 percent from a year earlier. Sales of cars and light commercial vehicles are forecast to be unchanged in February for the second time in four months.

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