* Retail sales pick up more than forecast
* Capital investment falls short
* Nominal, real wage growth strong
* Jobless rate inches up
* Cbank seen on hold till Q2 2013
By Maya Dyakina
MOSCOW, Dec 19 Russia's economic picture
brightened slightly in November, with consumer data coming in
stronger than expected even as capital investment weakened.
The data cemented expectations the central bank will keep
rates on holding until spring.
Retail sales growth picked up more than forecast to 4.4
percent year-on-year, while capital investments fell short,
rising only 1.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Service said in
its monthly report on Wednesday.
"While consumption indicators have shown some resilience in
November, investment indicators continue to point to a broadly
weaker underlying state of the economy," Ivan Tchakarov, chief
economist for Russia and CIS at Renaissance Capital said in a
Stronger consumer figures chime in with industrial output
data showing a pick-up in manufacturing in November. However,
extractive industries almost flatlined, reflecting weak demand
for Russia's resource exports.
Russia's $1.9 trillion economy still relies heavily on
energy and raw materials exports and any fall in the oil price
will have a big impact on its overall economic performance
unless it diversifies.
The unemployment rate inched up to 5.4 percent, or 4.1
million people, in November from 5.3 in October.
Nominal wages continued their rapid growth, up
14.2 percent, while real pay grew by 7.3 percent
Strong consumption and a tight labour market have been the
major drivers of economic growth this year, boosted by credit
expansion and government spending during the election period.
However, Russia saw a lacklustre second half of the year
after Vladimir Putin's return as president, while a spike in
inflation has cut into the rate at which the spending power of
households is growing.
Inflation has broken out of the central bank target range
for this year of 5-6 percent after a summer drought decimated
this year's harvest and is expected to reach 6.5-6.7 by the end
The central bank central bank expects inflation to slow to
within its 2013 target range of 5 to 6 percent in the middle of
the year, Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said.
The regulator tweaked its policy rates in December, in a
move designed to reduce market volatility, and signalled that it
intends to keep rates on hold in the near future in a neutral
tone, devoting similar weight to risks of higher inflation and
slower economic growth.
Economic growth is expected to continue its slowdown till
the second quarter of next year due to weaker exports and less
generous budget expenditures.
"We think the central bank will remain on hold till March or
April and then will start to loosen its monetary policy," said
Maxim Oreshkin, economist at VTB Capital.