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Russia’s Central Bank plans to gradually cut key rate

March 24, 2017, 17:27 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On Friday the Central Bank reduced its key rate for the first time since September 2016

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MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. Russia’s Central Bank plans to gradually cut its key rate and will further stick to the moderately tight monetary policy, the regulator’s Chief Elvira Nabiullina said Friday.

"Speaking about the mid-term run, we’ll be reducing the (key) rate gradually, probably with certain pauses, simultaneously sticking to the moderately tight monetary policy," she said.

According to Nabiullina, the decisions on key rate reduction will be made not only at pivotal, but also at interim meetings of the regulator.

"We will first of all focus on pivotal meetings when we update and publish macroeconomic outlooks. But we do not rule out that decisions will be made at interim meetings as well," she said.

Earlier on Friday the Central Bank reduced its key rate for the first time since September 2016 at the board meeting by 25 basis points to 9.75% per annum.

The board of directors will hold its next rate review meeting on the key rate issue on 28 April 2017, the regulator said.

Capital outflow expected at $12-13 bln per year

Capital outflow from Russia is expected to be stable at around $12-13 bln per year within the next three years, according to Nabiullina.

"Capital outflow will be stable amounting to $12-13 bln per year within a three-year period," she said.

In 2016, net capital outflow from the private sector amounted to $15.4 bln, an almost 4-fold decrease compared with 2015 ($57.5 bln), the regulator said earlier.

VEB Deputy CEO Andrei Klepach said earlier that capital outflow from Russia will slightly increase against the 2016 figure and will amount to $20-30 bln in 2017.

Russia may add $23 bln to its currency reserves in 2017

Repayment of refinancing operations debts by Russian banks and forex purchases by the Finance Ministry may provide for currency reserves increment by $23 bln in 2017, Nabiullina said on Friday.

"Banks will be able to completely repay debts under currency refinancing programs by 2017; according to our estimate, this will provide for currency reserves growth by $23 bln alongside with forex purchases by the Finance Ministry," she said.

Forex purchases by the Finance Ministry have not influenced on the ruble rate and the situation on the forex market remains stable, Nabiullina said. "We see now the situation on the currency market remains stable; operations of the Finance Ministry have not significantly influenced on the ruble rate," she added.

The Finance Ministry initiated forex buying and selling operations on the domestic market in February 2017. The Bank of Russia was appointed as the agent for currency transfer to accounts with the Federal Treasury.

Low and stable inflation 

Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina said that low and stable inflation is her main goal.

"In the monetary policy, we set the goal of achieving low and stable inflation. And most importantly, so that everybody benefits from that inflation," Nabiullina said.

According to her, people are aware of the current low inflation largely because food prices do not grow quickly. "But not everybody in business felt it yet. We have not yet created enough confidence that inflation will be low and stable, so that one can make plans and attract investments," she added.

According to the Central Bank, decline of inflation in the first twenty days of March to 4.3% in annual terms.

"Inflation declines ahead of the forecast. Over the first twenty days in March, annual consumer price growth dropped to an estimated 4.3%, from 5.0% in January 2017. February saw a continued slowdown in price growth across all key groups of goods and services, and a reduction in seasonally adjusted monthly inflation. Inflation slowdown was broadly facilitated by the ruble appreciation amid higher than expected oil prices, persistent interest in investment in Russian assets among external investors, and a drop in the sovereign risk premium. Bumper harvests of 2015-2016 resulted in high stocks of agricultural products, leading to a material slowdown in food inflation and falling vegetable and fruit prices," the regulator said.

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