Production Stats Lowest Since 1998

Russia's manufacturing shrank more in November than during the 1998 financial collapse as the global economic crisis drove output and new orders to record lows and companies cut jobs, VTB Bank Europe said.

VTB's Purchasing Managers' Index fell for a fourth month to 39.8, its lowest level, from 46.4 in October, the bank said Monday.

The previous low was 43.2 in September 1998, a month after the government's ruble devaluation and default on $40 billion of debt. A figure above 50 means growth, below 50 a contraction. The bank surveyed 300 purchasing executives.

"The sense of doom and gloom was only deepening," in November, said Tatyana Orlova, an economist in Moscow at ING Group. "The mood isn't getting any better."

Industrial production has slumped and unemployment is rising as declining commodities prices and the seizure of credit markets prompt an outflow of capital.

Investors withdrew $190 billion from the country since August, BNP Paribas estimates, as oil fell below the $70-a-barrel average needed to balance the 2009 budget.

"Driving the rapid contraction of the manufacturing sector in November was a record fall in incoming new work," the bank said in the statement. New export contracts tumbled because of "fallout from the global financial crisis."