Russia World Cup to lift economy, drive inflation: central bank

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - This year’s soccer World Cup will bring a small boost to the Russian economy but could also cause a short-term spike in inflation, the Russian central bank said on Monday.

President Vladimir Putin is hoping to use the World Cup, set to run from June 14 to July 15, to showcase Russia as a global superpower and reinvigorate areas of the country where the economy has stagnated with an influx of tourists and spending.

In emailed comments to Reuters, the central bank said spending on preparations for the tournament had already helped support the economy, which returned to growth last year after a two-year downturn.

“Concerning the second and third quarters of 2018, the short-term positive impact on the Russian economy will be the growth in jobs and increase in demand for consumer products and services,” the bank said.

Analysts at Russia’s Gaidar Institute said in January the World Cup, which will be hosted in 11 cities across the country, could add up to 0.2 percent to annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second and third quarters.

But the central bank, which has fought to bring inflation down from double-digit levels to post-Soviet lows, also warned that the tournament could lead to an increase in consumer prices.

“A small, short-term increase in prices for some goods and services (food, entertainment, hotels) is possible, which will lead to profits for a few companies,” the regulator said.

Russian authorities have already named and shamed hotels caught jacking up room prices ahead of the World Cup, with some increasing nightly rates by as much as 5,000 percent.

The central bank, however, still sees Russian inflation below its target of four percent in 2018 and has said it could fall to a record low near two percent in the second quarter.

Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by William Maclean