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Traditional increase in tariffs in power sector by 18.9% and for freight transportation by 20.4% in January-March influenced the inflation background at the beginning of 2008. It should be noted that considerable changes in prices of producers of some kinds of power resources as compared with prices for oil does not exclude corrective changes in prices in the nearest future.

Average monthly increase in consumer prices index in spring-summer 2008 forecast by IET will be equal to 0.6% a month, index of producers of industrial goods 1.8% transportation tariff for freight transportation being stable..

Level and dynamics of prices had a considerable influence on the indices of production profitability. As a result of 2007 under existing level of prices, labor remuneration and labor efficiency, balanced financial result of enterprises and organizations was equal to RUR 5726.3 bln and increased by 17.7% as compared with 2007. In 2007 processing industries by profit growth rates gave place to extractive industries, high dynamics in construction and transport sustaining. Among extractive industries it was oil products production (169.3% to 2005) and production of finished metal goods (145.2%) that had the prevailing influence both by volumes and rates.

Table Prices and Tariffs Indices at the End of 1 Quarter, as percentage to the previous year 2005 2006 2007 Consumer prices index 105.3 105.0 103.4 104.Foodstuffs 104.9 106.2 102.6 105.Non-food goods 101.1 101.3 101.1 102.Paid services 112.6 108.0 108.0 107.Utilities 126.5 115.6 112.7 113.Passenger transportation services 105.8 105.8 106.7 108.Communication services 100.3 100.5 110.4 99.Prices of producers of industrial goods 104.3 106.0 101.7 103.Minerals extraction 103.3 110.8 97.2 93.Processing industries 102.8 103.5 100.9 104.Electricity, gas and water production and 111.7 109.8 114.6 118.distribution Tariffs for freight transportation index 113.9 109.8 105.9 120.Source: Federal State Statistics Service Table Balanced Financial Result (Profit minus Loss) by Kinds of Economic Activities, as percentage to the previous year 2006 117.Economy on the whole 131.126.Minerals extraction 103.Fossil fuels extraction 101.0 128.Processing industries 153.4 118.Oil products production 169.3 101.Machine building 144.9 118.Electricity, gas and water production and distribution 88.5 101.Construction 157.6 153.Wholesale and retail trade, motor vehicles and motorcycles servicing, 116.repair of household appliances and items of private use 149.Transportation and communication 129.6 166.Pipelines transportation 114.3 132.Communication 126.7 163.Source: Federal State Statistics Service Against the background of production rates acceleration the trend for the increase of the gap between labor efficiency and wages growth rates. Sustention of internal market dynamics in this environment is accompanied by incomes redistribution from enterprises to population and resulted in the end in the increase of production costs and weak dynamics of production profitability changes.

As a result of 2007, economy profitability was equal to 14.3%, the profitability of extractive industries being 31.1% and of processing industries 18.4%. It should be noted that the highest profitability is still characteristic for productions connected with raw materials processing. In metallurgical production profitability in 2008 was equal to 36.3%, in non-metal minerals goods production to 29.0%, in coke and oil products production to28.3%, in chemical production to 19.7%, the figure for different kinds of machine-building productions being at the level of 6.6-10.8%.

Table Profitability of Sold Goods, Production by Kinds of Economic Activity, as percentage 2004 2005 2006 Total throughout the economy 13.2 13.5 13.2 14.Minerals extraction 32.5 35.6 30.6 31.Fossil fuels extraction 31.8 34.7 29.2 31.Minerals extraction, excluding fossil fuels 37.3 42.8 42.4 33.Processing industries 14.9 15.3 16.6 18.Foodstuffs production, including beverages and tobacco 7.5 7.9 8.8 10.Textile and sewing industry 2.4 2.7 3.5 4.Leather, leather goods and footwear production 3.7 5 6.9 6.Wood processing and wooden goods production 4.6 4.2 5.3 9.Pulp and paper production, editing and publishing activity 10.8 11.2 12.2 11.Coke and oil products production 22.3 21.4 21.1 28.Chemistry production 13.8 19.3 16.5 19.Rubber and plastic goods production 4.4 4.6 6.6 8.Other non-metal mineral goods production 12 12.3 19.3 29.Metallurgy industry and production of finished metal goods 32.2 26.7 34.5 32.of which metallurgy production 36 30.1 39.2 36.Machinery and equipment production 7.5 8.2 8.3 9.Electric, electronic and optical equipment production 8.4 8.4 9.2 10.Transport vehicles and equipment production 7.8 6.9 6.1 6.Electricity, gas and water production and distribution 5.4 5.3 3.2 5.Construction 4.2 3.9 5.6 6.Wholesale and retail trade, motor vehicles servicing, repair of household appliances and items of private use 11.3 9.7 10.1 9.Transportation and communication 13.4 14.4 15.1 16.Source: Federal State Statistics Service According to the on-line data, balanced financial result of organizations, not taking into account organizations of agriculter and small business entities, was RUR 893.7 bln and increased as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year by 1.35 times, including by 2.0 times in minerals extraction, by 1.times in processing industries, by 1.99 times in construction.

In March 2008 the number of those employed in the economy went up by 1.0 million of people and was equal to 70.4 mln of people. The number of the unemployed, calculated according to the International Labor Organization, was equal to 4.8 mln of people or 6.4% of the economically active population and decreased by 300 thousand as compared with March 2007. Tension coefficient the number of those unemployed registered at the employment agencies as to one vacant position was equal to 1.6 against 2.2 at the beginning of the year. The demand for employees, declared by organizations to employment service increased in March 2008 and was equal to 1000 thousand of people.

Business Survey S. Tsukhlo Low, however stable, demand and supply growth rates are becoming habitual for Russian enterprises. But it is increasingly difficult to achieve such stability, the lack of workers in industry becoming ever more acute and the import pressure heavier. The enterprises are more inclined than ever over the period since October 2004 to increase prices.

According to the data of the official statistics, in March 2008 the volume of the industrial production increase by 6.5% as compared with the level of March of the previous year, and the total growth over the first quarter is equal to 6.2%. According to the calculations of the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and ShortTerm Forecasting, industrial production output in March 2008 was 0.7% higher than in February 2008, seasonal and occasional fluctuations excluded.

In April industrial production growth sustained at the former level. All indices, calculated on the basis of surveys results, demonstrated the stability of balances of changes (growth rates) in output in February-April 2008. A year ago output growth rates were one and a half times higher.

Fig. CHANGES IN PRODUCTION, SEASONAL AND OCCASIONAL FLUCTUATIONS EXCLUDED (BALANCE=%GROWTH-%DECREASE) % EXPECTED REAL ----1/93 1/95 1/97 1/99 1/01 1/03 1/05 1/Stabilization of industrial production growth is accounted for by the demand stabilization for industrial goods. Over the last six months the growth of sales is equal to +6..+8 balance points. Demand is growing and growing steadily, though not as intensively, or, to be more precise, two times as slow as in the first half year of 2007. Such a slowdown in sales growth did not at first satisfy Russian enterprises. As a result the share of demand estimations normal decreased by February 2008 down to 62%, which is the minimum for last year and a half, August maximum being 72%. By April, however, industry seemed to get used to comparatively low sales growth rates and the satisfaction with the demand went up by 65%. However, a considerable variation of this index by branches of industry is observed in the light industry it is equal to 26% (72% a year ago), in foodstuffs production 40% (62%), in construction industry 44% (49%). Among the machine-building plants 72% are satisfied with the demand (62% a year ago), among chemical and petrochemical enterprises 82% (69%).

Fig. BALANCES OF CHANGES IN SOLVENT DEMAND, SEASONAL AND OCCASIONAL FLUCTUATIONS EXCLUDED % EXPECTED REAL -----1/1993 1/1995 1/1997 1/1999 1/2001 1/2003 1/2005 1/Stabilization of sales growth at comparatively low level and high level of output that remained unchanged resulted in growth of finished goods stocks. In 2008 the share of estimations above the norm exceeds the share of estimations below the norm by 8-9 balance points. At the end of 2007 this excess was equal only to 2-3 points. Growth of stocks throughout the whole industry is proceeding mainly because of wood processing complex (balanced went up to +45 p.p.), construction and light industry (to +37 p.p. each), chemistry and petrochemistry (up to +26 p.p.). In non-ferrous metallurgy and machine-building industry, however, stocks are empty (balance is negative), which testifies high level of current demand and good prospects for its growth at least according to the forecasts made by the producers themselves.

Fig. BALANCES OF ESTIMATIONS OF FINISHED GOODS % STOCKS (BALANCE = %ABOVE -- %BELOW THE NORM) NORMAL BALANCE OF ESTIMATIONS --1/1993 1/1995 1/1997 1/1999 1/2001 1/2003 1/2005 1/Insufficient demand has been cited as an obstacle for output growth at enterprises more often in recent months. Whereas in July 2007 it was considered as an obstacle by 26% of enterprises, in April 2008 the number of such enterprises was 31%. The growth is, certainly, moderate, but it is obvious and has been proceeding for the third quarter in a row. Lack of floating assets prevents a bit larger proportion of enterprises from increasing output. At the moment it is cited by 36% of enterprises. It is the shortage of staff, however, that remains the biggest problem for the industry. In April 2008 frequency of its quotation reached 49%, the figure being 36% in January 2008 and 7% in April 1998, in other words, nearly the half of the Russian enterprises suffer from the shortage of staff. In light industry and machine building there are already 62% of enterprises that complain about the lack of staff. It is the foodstuffs production that has the least problems with the staff (frequency of quotation is 7%). Import, the necessity of protection from which has been declared for a long time, begins to impede output growth in the Russian industry. The frequency of its quotation as an obstacle increased up to 31% in April 2008, whereas in October 2007 it was cited only by 17% of the enterprises, the propaganda remaining at the same level. A twofold growth! A quarter of Russian enter prises lack the facilities to increase the output. The result, compared with other obstacles, is not impressive, in 2007 the figure being as much as 32%, which is the absolute maximum of this obstacle citing, but very worrying one more resource inherited from the time of socialism has been exhausted.

Forecasts for changes in demand have not altered since the beginning of 2008 throughout the industry: enterprises expect quite high growth rates of their production sales. The real dynamics of demand, however, hold out little hope for producers. This makes the producers reconsider sales forecasts towards more moderate growth. As a result, sustenance of all-industry optimistic forecasts is mainly due to wood processing complex and machine building, other branches of industry expecting less intensive growth of sales in forthcoming months. The situation with production plans is similar expectances for forthcoming changes in production are by far more optimistic than real output dynamics.

Enterprises plans for prices do not give hope for slow-down of producers prices growth. In April intentions to change prices reached the maximum level over the last 42 months Russian enterprises have not predicted such intensive increase in prices since October 2004.

Foreign Trade N. Volovik In February 2008 development of Russian foreign trade proceeded under conditions of exceptionally high prices for the main goods of Russian export. The most significant factors accounting for the high level of import growth are investment and consumer demand growth acceleration. In April 2008 the protocol on conclusion of negotiations with United Arabic Emirates on Russias accession to the WTO. Next round of bilateral and multilateral consultations on Russian Federations accession to the WTO also took place in April 2008 in Geneva.

In February 2008 Russias foreign trade turnover, calculated on the basis of balance-of-payments methodology, was equal to USD 56.5 bln, which is 48.7% higher than in February 2007, of which export was equal to USD 35.6 bln (50.4% growth) and import to USD 20.9 bln (48,1% growth).

Positive foreign trade balance increased by 54.3% as compared with the corresponding figure of February 2007, being equal to USD 14.6 bln.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the Russian Federation Fig. 1 Main Indices of Russian Foreign Trade (as USD billion) Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan May May Sept May Sept May Sept May Sept May Sept May Sept May Sept Sept High indices of export growth are still connected with favorable situation at the world market.

Weakening of the US dollar, evolving apprehensions concerning fuel supplies from Venezuela and Nigeria, cold weather in the USA led to further increase of prices for oil. In February 2008 average price for oil grade Brent increased as compared with February 2007 by 59.0%, and remained at nearly the same level as in January 2008 (growth by 0.3%). Average price for Russian oil grade Urals was equal to USD 91.7 per barrel in February 2080, increasing by 70.2% as compared with February 2007, and as compared with January 2008 by 2.5%. Prices for petrol as compared with the previous month remained at the same level and as compared with February 2007 they increased by 49.2%.

In connection with the increase of oil prices at the market the Government of the Russian Federation established export duty rate for crude oil at the level of USD 333.8 per ton from 1 February 2008. Export duty rate for oil in February 2008 exceeded export duty rate of February 2007 by USD 154.1.

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