MOSCOW, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Russian industrial output registered a surprise fall in January, adding to signs that economic growth is fast losing momentum.
Data released by the Federal Statistics Service on Friday showed that 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.
'Definitely this was a great disapoointment and a great negative surprise,' said Alexander Morozov, chief Russia economist at HSBC.
He said other indicators, such as positive PMI data, had pointed towards industrial activity picking up last month.
Output fell by 11.8 percent month-on-month. A steep fall is usual in January, when holidays mean fewer working days. However, seasonally-adjusted output was down 1.5 percent on the month - the largest monthly fall for over a year.
The poor industrial output reading adds to evidence that Russia's economy is experiencing a marked slowdown. In December, gross domestic product expanded 2.4 percent, below the 3.4 percent growth rate recorded for 2012 as a whole.
Worries over the slowing pace of economic growth have led to pressure on the central bank to reduce interest rates, but the bank has signalled that it remains more concerned about above-target inflation, resisting pressure to cut rates.
NOTE - For key Russian indicators click here.
(Writing by Jason Bush; Editing by Catherine Evans) Keywords: RUSSIA OUTPUT/
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