February 3, 2020 / 1:08 PM / 25 days ago

Russia's economic growth at 1.3% in 2019, slightly above expectations

A Russian flag flies over Russian Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian economy grew 1.3% in 2019, preliminary data from the statistics service showed on Monday, slightly exceeding expectations.

Analysts polled by Reuters in late 2019 expected Russia’s gross domestic product to expand 1.2%. The central bank predicted that the economy would grow by no more than 1.3%.

The GDP figures are closely watched by the market because the issue of sluggish economic growth in Russia has become acute recently, drawing attention from President Vladimir Putin, who ordered his government to find ways to speed up the economy.

“This is the first estimate as we don’t have full data yet,” said Pavel Malkov, the head of Rosstat statistics service, presenting the 2019 growth figure.

The reading can change in the future when Rosstat obtains more information, Malkov told reporters.

Rosstat has revised data in the past, usually to give the statistics a more positive hue. For example, in late 2019 Rosstat revised GDP growth figures, altering the trajectory of Russia’s 2018 economic growth to 2.5% from 2.3%.

Rosstat has said it has five readings of GDP and revisions make numbers more accurate.

In the next few years, GDP growth is expected to pick up thanks to state investment in large infrastructure projects, reaching 2% to 3% by 2022, according to the central bank’s forecasts.

This year, the Russian economy was seen growing by 1.8%, below the 2.5% global growth projected by the World Bank, analysts polled in late January predicted.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh, editing by Larry King

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