10 Sep 2009 19:22

Central Bank board to meet Mon; analysts expect 0.25% rate cut

MOSCOW. Sept 10 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia's board of directors will meet on September 14, a source close to the Central Bank told Interfax.

Another source close to the board of directors confirmed the information.

Neither of them elaborated on the meeting agenda.

But analysts surveyed by Interfax anticipate the board will approve a 0.25 percentage point cut in the refinancing rate and other key fiscal rates, as was the case at the August 10 meeting.

Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said at a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday that the Central Bank might lower the refinancing rate soon.

"Most likely, it will resume its decline soon," he said.

The refinancing rate has been cut five times since April, to 10.75% currently from 13%.

In its announcement of the August 10 rate cut, the Central Bank said that the outlook for further cuts would be determined by the inflation outlook, lending activity in the banking sector and the condition of financial markets.

Russia had zero inflation in August, improving on the preliminary estimate of 0.1%. The last time inflation was so low was in August 2005, when Russia had 0.1% deflation.

Inflation through the first eight months of the year was 8.1% compared with 9.7% in the same period last year.

Ignatyev said at the meeting with Medvedev that he did not see anything "that would lead to any significant increase in inflation in the remaining months of the year."

Inflation in 2009 will be significantly lower than the official Economic Development Ministry forecast of 11.6%-12%.

Ignatyev expressed dismay that bank lending to the real sector of the economy was barely increasing, but noted the stability on the currency exchange.

Previously the head of the Central Bank's combined economic department, Nadezhda Ivanova, told journalists that at its next meeting the Central Bank board might examine the draft of the main directions for unified state fiscal policy in 2010. Afterwards the document will be submitted to the government and the State Duma.