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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Output Fall Nips Hopes For 1996


Russia's industrial output sank 7 percent in the first quarter of 1996, according to government statistics, an inauspicious beginning to a year officials earlier had said would at last see an economic turnaround.

The fall in output came as the domestic sector remained ailing and growth in exports -- which had fueled much of the economy in 1995 -- leveled off, experts told Interfax on Friday.

International Monetary Fund statistics for May gave the value of Russia's foreign sales in 1995 as $79.05 billion, up from $66.25 billion the year before, an increase of nearly 20 percent. Interfax cited the government Center for Market Trends for the industrial output figures.

Gross domestic product in Russia fell 4 percent last year, the economy's best performance since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and government officials had voiced hope that 1996 would finally see a gain in gross domestic product and industrial output.

However, both foreign and domestic investment has dried up and economic activity in many regions has slowed sharply, in part because of political uncertainty ahead of the June election, analysts and officials have said.

Brighter economic news came with the inflation figures for the first week of May. Prices rose 0.3 percent from April 30 to May 5, according to the State Statistics Committee, the lowest weekly rate since the start of economic reforms, according to Interfax.

If that rate continues, overall May inflation would clock in at 1.7 to 1.9 percent, Interfax said, below April's record low of 2.2 percent.

The IMF, in a memorandum, gave no reason for what it called "sizable export gains" posted by Russia and other East European countries last year.

According to the IMF's international statistics for May there were also increases last year in Russia's foreign reserves, gold stocks and foreign assets. Though interest rates fluctuated, they were down from 1994 levels. ()