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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Central Bank Sees Macro Stability in H1

New Russian capital flow and trade data signal that the macroeconomic environment will stabilize throughout the first half of 2009, the Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said Wednesday.

Ulyukayev said net private capital outflows fell to $4.5 billion in February from $29 billion in January, while the trade surplus stood at $16 billion and the current account surplus at $9.4 billion in the two months.

"Preliminary data for the first two months of 2009 lead to a conclusion that the population and businesses have adapted to new exchange rate correlations, formed after gradual weakening of the national currency," Ulyukayev said in an interview.

Russia devalued the ruble by a quarter against the dollar/euro basket in response to a fall in prices for oil, Russia's main export commodity, which was expected to bring the country's trade balance into negative territory.

"The hypothesis that we will have a sustainable trade surplus of dozens of billions of dollars this year is being confirmed," he said, adding that the Central Bank expected capital outflows to be close to zero in March.

"I think the period of intense capital outflows is mainly over," he said.

He said expectations of further devaluation have ebbed with the share of bank deposits in foreign currency stables in February, while the banking sector's foreign currency denominated assets were down by $15 billion.

Ulyukayev said the Central Bank needed more time to study the impact of the ruble devaluation on inflation before it could start cutting interest rates and said the balance of payments data for the first quarter was a key indicator.

"If the trends I am talking about continue -- and I am convinced they will continue -- we will have grounds to take such important decisions [such as an interest rates cut]," Ulyukayev said.