15 Sep 2010 18:44

Russian industrial growth accelerates to 7% in Aug, above forecast

MOSCOW. Sept 15 (Interfax) - Russian industrial output growth accelerated to 7% in August from 5.9% in July, 9.7% in June and 12.6% in May, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said.

The August growth was higher than the 6.1% that analysts predicted in a consensus forecast for Interfax at the end of that month.

Seasonally adjusted growth was 0.1% in August, compared with decline of 0.2% in July and 0.6% in June.

Output grew 9.2% year-on-year in January-August 2010. It plummeted 13.5% in January-August 2009, including by 10.7% in August 2010.

Output accelerated in the manufacturing sector in August 2010, despite the heat wave, to 11% from 8% in July. However this fell short of the growth of 14% seen in June and 18.7% in May this year.

The extractive sector grew just 0.6% in August, compared with 2.7% in July, 4.4% in June and 5.4% in May.

Output in the utilities sector rose 4.4% in August, up from growth of 2.5% in July, 2.3% in June and 4.1% in May.

Car production rose 5.1-fold in August this year compared with the same period of last year, when many plants shut assembly lines down due to low demand. Truck production soared 73.3% year-on-year in August, and steel pipe output rose 24.2%.

The summer drought has affected production of cereals, in particular buckwheat, output of which plummeted 54.5% in August, however bottled water output rose 78.6%.

Russia raised production of oil and gas condensate 2.3% year-on-year in January-August to 355 million tonnes. August oil production fell 0.2% year-on-year.

Natural gas production, including associated gas, soared 16.7% to 422 billion cubic meters in the eight months but fell 2.7% in August.

Electricity output grew 5.4% to 673 billion kilowatt-hours in the eight months and 7.6% in August. Heat output rose 4.9% in the eight months to 877 million Gcal, but fell 2.7% in August.

Economists told Interfax that the August results weren't too bad. The heat wave did not have a major impact on industrial growth, but at the same time there are no real signs of significant growth and the prevailing trend is stagnation. Last month's growth was spurred by the fact there was one more working day than in August 2009, while July had one working day less than in the same month last year.

"In general, the data is positive. Zero seasonally adjusted growth or even a drop could have been expected in August due to the abnormal heat, but the positive result indicates that demand continues to grow," said Vladimir Tikhormirov, chief economist at the Otkritie Financial Corporation. This sort of growth could be sustained, and industry might grow more than 8% in the year as a whole, Tikhomirov said.

Anton Struchenevsky, senior economist at Troika Dialog, said the heat wave had not has such an impact on industry, but "on the whole the trend hasn't altered much: the pace of growth has been slowing since May." Also, the low comparative base towards the end of 2009 will slow annual growth rates in Q4 2010, but industry could still grow 7%-8% in the year.

Analysts said in the consensus forecast at the end of August that they thought industry would grow 7% in the year. The Russian Economic Development Ministry thinks 7.6% growth is more likely.