Russia likely to raise key rate by 50 bp to 7% on Friday

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By Andrey Ostroukh and Elena Fabrichnaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian central bank is set to raise rates by 50 basis points on Friday, approaching the end of a monetary tightening cycle aimed at reining in high consumer inflation, a Reuters poll suggested on Monday.

    Russia’s annual inflation has accelerated to a five-year high, keeping up the pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates for the fifth time so far this year after a sharp hike in July.

    Seventeen of the 29 analysts and economists polled by Reuters predicted that the central bank will raise its key rate by 50 basis points to 7%, which would bring it above inflation for the first time so far this year.

    President Vladimir Putin added to expectations of an imminent rate hike last month when he promised a one-off payment to pensioners and the military ahead of a September parliamentary election. This move is expected to have a pro-inflationary impact.

    “We believe CBR could hike the rate another 50bps to curb the secondary effects of additional social outlays and global supply disruptions,” Sova Capital’s chief economist Artem Zaigrin said.

    “CBR would likely end the rate-hiking cycle after such an increase and start taking a neutral tone.”

    Central Bank Deputy Governor Alexei Zabotkin said last week the Bank of Russia will consider the need for a key rate increase at the Sept. 10 meeting, reiterating the bank’s wording from its last statement from July when the bank hiked the key rate by 100 basis points.

    Higher rates are designed to tame inflation, which overshot the 4% target in late 2020 amid global inflation and as the weaker rouble filtered into prices in Russia.

    Inflation is a sensitive issue in Russia ahead of a September parliamentary election as it eats into incomes already dented by the COVID-19 crisis and the weak rouble.

    Twelve of the polled experts predicted a smaller 25-basis-point increase that would take the key rate to 6.75%, its highest since 2019.

The central bank sees its key rate averaging 6-7% in 2022, predicting that annual inflation, its main area of responsibility, will be near the 4% target by the end of next year.

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