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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF Talks Hard Sell For Russia

Figures released Wednesday indicate a stagnant Russian economy and rising wage arrears, but record low inflation will give officials welcome ammunition in talks with the International Monetary Fund.

An IMF team, the latest in a series of monitoring missions to assess whether to hand over monthly tranches of a $10.2 billion, three-year loan, opened talks Wednesday in Moscow.

They are looking at Russia's performance in July, when the IMF delayed handing over $330 million because of concern about low tax revenues. They also will examine August data to see whether Russia is fulfilling economic promises.

Figures presented by Russia aim to present the most up-to-date possible snapshot of the Russian economy, which recorded its lowest post-reform inflation rate last month.

Prices rose 0.7 percent in July from August, for a year-on-year inflation rate of 43.6 percent. It was the first time that year-on-year inflation had fallen below 50 percent since Russia started reforms in January 1992.

The State Statistics Committee said Wednesday that gross domestic product was 9 percent below year-earlier levels in July. Industrial output was 6.8 percent below year-earlier levels.

Wage arrears rose to 5.80 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) July 22 from 4.38 trillion June 24.

But Russians earned an average of 865,000 roubles a month in July, or about $165 at the mid-month exchange rate. The July 1995 average was 499,500 roubles, then worth about $110.