Economy Grew 5.6% In 2008

The economy expanded last year at the slowest pace since 2002 as the ruble's decline hurt consumer demand and the global slowdown dented the country's commodity exports.

Gross domestic product grew 5.6 percent, according to the Economic Development Ministry's spokeswoman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. She cited a preliminary estimate and declined to provide any explanation. The figure was below the 6 percent median forecast of 10 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The State Statistics Service was scheduled to release the official figure Monday or Tuesday. The economy expanded 8.1 percent in 2007.

Industrial production dropped 10.3 percent in December, the most since at least 2003. The Economic Development Ministry expects the economy to shrink 0.2 percent this year. The global financial crisis is resulting in the first budget deficit in 10 years.

"The degree and pace of decline, as well as the volatility observed recently in the oil and metal sectors, have exceeded historical precedents," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Elena Anankina said in a report before the GDP data were released.