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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Economic Output Declines Again in February

MOSCOW -- Russia reported a further fall in output Monday, but economists said gloomy February figures took little account of improvements in some sectors.

The State Statistics Committee said February industrial output was 4 percent below year-earlier levels, and gross domestic product declined 3 percent from February 1995 levels, after year-on-year declines of 4 percent and 6 percent in February 1995. February unemployment rose to 8.5 percent of the work force, from 7.4 percent a year ago.

The figures will give ammunition to President Boris Yeltsin's opponents, especially the communists, who want government to do more to help companies.

But analysts said voters may be encouraged by monthly inflation of about 3 percent, the lowest since reforms began.

The government has promised to bring monthly inflation down to 1 percent this year as part of an agreement it reached last month for a big new loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The statistics committee has improved its methodology over the past two years, but economists said the data still took little account of a growing private sector and untaxed and virtually unreported areas of the economy.

"I think the figures are worthwhile because they represent a consistent series and give some basis for comparison, even if they fail to include a large part of the real economy," said Christopher Granville of United City Bank in Moscow.

"The improvement has not come yet, but there is no sign of a reverse trend. ... The shakeout has happened, and it is just a question of one or two short-term factors which have temporarily halted the growth trend," he said.