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Russia central bank keeps main interest rate unchanged

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Russian central bank kept its main refinancing rate unchanged at 8.25 percent on Tuesday, resisting pressure from some policymakers for a quick rate cut to boost economic activity.

But in a statement accompanying its decision, the Bank Rossii appeared to leave the door open for a cut in the future by saying inflation, currently high at 7.2 percent, should return to within its target range in the second half of the year.

The bank also gave a downbeat assessment of Russia's economic growth prospects, saying that recent data pointed towards a continued slowing of growth and risks of a further slowdown.

"The decision (to hold rates) has been taken against the background of an estimation of the inflation risks and the prospects for economic growth," the bank said.

"The Bank Rossii will continue to monitor the inflation risks and the risks of economic slowdown," the bank said, adding that its next monetary policy meeting was scheduled for the first half of May.

The decision comes as the central bank goes through a shake-up ahead of the arrival of Kremlin economic advisor Elvira Nabiullina in the summer as its new chief to replace the long-serving incumbent Sergei Ignatyev.

While respected as an economist who served as a capable economy minister to 2012, Nabiullina is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and some analysts have expressed concern that the Kremlin will have a greater influence over the central bank.

sjw/zak/rl

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130402/russia-central-bank-keeps-main-interest-rate-unchanged-0