Russian Manufacturing Gauge Signals Contraction for Second Month

Russian manufacturers reported worsening conditions for a second month in August as exports stagnated and employment dropped the fastest in four years, HSBC Holdings Plc said.

The HSBC Russia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 49.4 in August from 49.2 in July, which was a 43-month low, HSBC said today in a statement, citing data compiled by London-based Markit Economics. The median estimate of seven economists in a Bloomberg survey was for an increase to 50, the mark that divides contraction from expansion.

Manufacturing weakness suggests recoveries in Europe and China aren’t filtering through to companies in Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter. President Vladimir Putin’s government is struggling to halt the sharpest slowdown in growth since a 2009 recession, with policy makers divided over the Economy Ministry’s decision to cut its 2013 growth forecast.

“A crawling-style shaky growth seems to be the most plausible scenario for Russian manufacturing looking forward,” Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States at HSBC in Moscow, said in the statement. The survey “still supports monetary-policy easing, with output growth in manufacturing remaining below potential and upside risks to inflation staying muted.”

The Micex Manufacturing Index fell 1.2 percent to 1,761.89 as of 10:33 a.m. in Moscow, while the ruble-denominated benchmark Micex Index advanced 0.3 percent to 1,368.69. The ruble strengthened for the first time in six days against the dollar, appreciating 0.2 percent to 33.2535.

Jobless Streak

Employers cut jobs for the ninth time in 10 months in August, with the rate surging to the fastest in four years, according to HSBC. A “weak” increase in new orders led to a marginal rise in output, driven by the consumer-goods industry.

Russia’s economy may expand 1.8 percent this year, down from an April forecast of 2.4 percent, the Economy Ministry said last week. The government shouldn’t downgrade its forecast for this year, Andrei Belousov, Putin’s top economic aide and the former economy minister, told reporters in Vladivostok on Aug. 30.

Economists forecast output will accelerate in the second half, growing 2.6 percent in the third quarter and 3.1 percent in the final three months, according to the median estimates of 16 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Shipments by state-run OAO Russian Railways fell 1.3 percent in August from a year earlier, the Moscow-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. In the year to date, volumes are down 3.2 percent from 2012.

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