There was a remarkable upswing in business confidence in January, according to Rosstat’s monthly survey. Confidence levels rose to -1, their highest level since May 2019 marking a return to pre-coronacrisis levels.
Business confidence in Russia is highly seasonal, during the winter months before the long holiday usually falling heavily to as low as -8. However, in 2020 despite the multiple shocks to the economy the confidence levels didn't fall quite as far as usual, dropping to -7.3 in November as the shock concerns were offset by the optimism for a bounce-back that came with the certification of the various vaccines to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Consumer confidence is only measured by Rosstat quarterly and the last reading in the 4Q20 remained at -26, the same level as during the crisis year of 2016.
The rising spirits of Russian business was confirmed by other surveys.
“The Markit IHS purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) for Russia illustrate this current improving sentiment. More importantly, they augur a gradual return of economic confidence in Russia. The readings for the manufacturing PMI (50.9) and services PMI (52.7) both exceeded a neutral reading of 50 points in January, thus indicating increasing business activity. The last time both indices were above 50 points was in September 2020. Confidence about the future in services rose sharply to a level last seen in October 2019,” Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT) said in a recent note.
Business activity of Russian enterprises in January almost reached pre-pandemic indicators of February 2020, according to another survey conducted by Promsvyazbank, Opora Russia business association and Magram Market Research agency.
According to the survey, under the RSBI index, business activity of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has been leaning to the growth zone for the third month in a row, and in January 2021 it amounted to 49.3 points, virtually equal to the pre-pandemic indicators of February 2020. The survey included owners and top managers of 1,773 SMEs from all regions of Russia. Like the PMIs, any result above 50 represents growth.