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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Inflation Hits 13.9% In February

Russia's inflation rate rose to a four-month high in February as the weaker ruble drove up the price of imports.

The annualized rate jumped to 13.9 percent from 13.4 percent in January, the State Statistics Service said Thursday. Consumer prices grew 1.7 percent in the month.

Inflation has been sparked by the weakening ruble, which pushed up import prices, and planned tariff increases at the start of the year that raised utility costs. Russia was forced to abandon its defense of the ruble after the price of oil, the government's biggest export earner, tumbled more than two-thirds in less than six months. The ruble has lost 35 percent of its value against the dollar since August.

"The effect of this ruble devaluation will be spread out over a number of months," Tatyana Orlova, chief economist at ING Bank in Moscow, said before the numbers were released. "Assuming the ruble is stable, we'll see the full impact by May or June," when the rate could reach 14.3 percent, she added.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the inflation rate could be as high as 14 percent this year, compared with 13.3 percent in 2008, as import prices rise and the government stimulates the economy by running a budget deficit equal to 8 percent of gross domestic product, its first in 10 years.