MOSCOW Feb 15 The Russian central bank hopes inflation will slow down in the coming months, allowing it to consider cutting interest rates, outgoing Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said on Friday.
"I very much hope that inflation will start to come down in the coming months and after that - I hope but I can't say definitely - we will start cutting interest rates," he told journalists.
Ignatyev will retire in June, after 11 years at the helm of the central bank.
Annual inflation accelerated to 7.1 percent in January from 6.6 percent in the previous month, prompting the central bank to leave all its policy rates on hold this week.
Alexei Ulyukayev, the central bank's First Deputy Chairman, said earlier this week he expects inflation to peak in February. The regulator targets inflation at 5-6 percent in 2013.
Data released by the Federal Statistics Service after the central banker's comments, showed Russian industrial output registered a surprise fall in January, adding to signs that economic growth is fast losing momentum.
Output fell by 0.8 percent year-on-year - far below a forecast for growth of 1.7 percent in a Reuters poll at the end of last month. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Ron Askew)