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Russian industrial output shrinks again in November

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian industrial output contracted for the second month in a row in November, data showed on Monday, in a sign that the economic slowdown has not yet bottomed out.

Russia's $2.1 trillion economy is growing at the slowest pace in four years, held back by stagnant corporate investments and weakening consumer demand.

Data released by the Federal Statistics Service on Monday showed that output fell by 1.0 percent year-on-year in November - below a median forecast of a flat performance in a Reuters poll of economists carried out at the end of last month. In October industrial output shrank 0.1 percent year-on-year.

President Vladimir Putin said for the first time last week that Russia's economic problems were mainly home-grown, highlighting a poor investment climate and low labor productivity as the main obstacles to growth.

Manufacturing shrank for the seventh month running, down 0.9 percent in November, year-on-year, after a 2.9 percent slump in October. The manufacturing sector accounts for about 16 percent of Russia's economy, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Power production was the weakest component in November, down 4.6 percent. The lower demand in the sector could be attributed to one-off seasonal effects, such as warmer weather.

"The manufacturing sector is the most serious problem and we still do not see any support from investment dynamics," said Sergei Voloboev, economist at Credit Suisse in London.

A freeze in tariffs and a cut in investment programs of state monopolies, together with the completion in Olympics construction projects suggest a reduction in industrial orders next year, said Dmitry Dolgin, an economist at Alfa-bank, suggesting that the economic slowdown is far from bottoming out.

The Economy Ministry sees gross domestic product rising by 1.4 percent in 2013, down from 3.4 percent in 2012. The official forecast envisages growth inching up to 2.5 percent next year.

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Pravin Char)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131216/russian-industrial-output-shrinks-again-november