MOSCOW, November 17. /TASS/. Sberbank expects the Russian Central Bank to reduce the key rate in 2017, Head of the credit organization Herman Gref told reporters on Thursday.
"We do not expect reduction of the key rate by the Central Bank this year, but the next," he said.
On October 28 the Central bank decided to maintain its key rate at 10%. The regulator found it necessary to keep the key rate on the current level until the end of 2016 to fix the trend for sustainable inflation decline, the regulator said.
At the same time, the regulator noted that further lowering of the key rate is possible in the first-second quarter of 2017.
According to the press release, maintaining the key rate at 10% for a rather long period of time would also form the monetary conditions which are necessary to keep incentive to savings.
On September 16, the Central Bank lowered the key rate by 0.5 percentage points to 10% and for the first time announced how soon it plans to lower the rate again.
Gref went on to say that profit of the Russian banking sector may surge 20% in 2017 and the year will be more stable.
"Nothing tragic will occur; the year of 2017 is more likely to be more or less stable for banks. I think banks should earn more profit than this year. I think profit in the next year may really be about 20% higher than this year," the banker said.
Russian banks earned profit of 714 bln rubles ($11.1 bln rubles) in ten months of 2016. The Russian banking system returned to normal conditions of profit generation, the Central Bank said earlier.
Corporate credit portfolio of Sberbank may resume growth in the first quarter of 2017, Gref said.
"At least certain seasonal demand is present this year. Let’s hope small demand may probably start in the first quarter," Gref said.
The corporate credit portfolio of Sberbank declined 5.3% from January to November 2016 to 11.6 trillion rubles ($179.8 bln). At the same time, the retail loan portfolio of the bank rose 3.9% from the beginning of 2016 to 4.3 trillion rubles ($66.7 bln).
"It’s difficult to predict so far. There must be a turning point, although I do not see grounds for high growth of demand [for corporate loans - TASS]. I hope such a breaking point will be at the beginning of the year," Gref said.
Lack of certain products driving the demand before and low investment activity are limiting the demand for corporate loans, he added.