Russia's GDP growth disappointed on the down side as the July-September numbers came in well below the government expectation at 1.2%, making the annual GDP growth of 1.8%. The government had been expecting 2.2%.
Previously, a 2.5% GDP growth registered in April-June gave officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, some cause to celebrate. Medvedev said earlier this year that the GDP growth is set to surpass 2%.
Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin was even more optimistic, saying that the Russian economy will not only reach 2% growth this year but will also surpass that figure at 2.2%.
The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) was more conservative, putting projected GDP growth in the range of between 1.8% and 2.2%, while Reuters' consensus forecast was 1.9%.
Now analysts say that only a growth of 3% in the October-December period would help to achieve the 2% figure, which at this point seems highly unlikely. Even Medvedev came out after the results were released to talk up Russia, saying 3% growth was possible, but not this year.
Meanwhile, the 2.5% growth in April-June, which provided state officials with so much optimism, was, to a large extent, caused by short-term factors, such as anomalously cold weather throughout May and June and restocking of inventories, which supported production, and the strengthening of the ruble, which boosted imports and consumption, but its effects are already wearing off.
Still, Russia’s GDP growth has been achieved against the backdrop of rather shaky industrial output.
In October, Russia's manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed some growth, while both output and new orders for Russian manufacturing producers eased and overall performance was the weakest since June, according to the IHS Markit report.