Russia cbank head strikes balanced note on rates
MOSCOW Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russian central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Friday there was no reason to raise or cut interest rates now, after the bank's rate-setting council said it would have to tighten policy if inflation deviates above target.
A decline in the rouble's exchange rate was expected to add a "moderate" 0.5 percentage points to inflation, Nabiullina told a briefing after the Bank of Russia earlier held its key rate at 5.5 percent for the sixteenth meeting in a row.
Any decision to raise interest rates would be in response to inflation, and not to defend the rouble, said Nabiullina, who took the top job at the central bank last June and is pursuing a strategic shift towards a policy of inflation targeting.
This transition entails scaling back currency interventions to allow the rouble to float freely by 2015. Nabiullina said there was "absolutely" no plan to delay this despite the recent sell-off in the Russian currency. (Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Jason Bush)
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