Russia’s inflation just plunged to its lowest level in over two years.
The headline inflation figure fell to 7.2% year-over-year in July, down from 7.5% yoy in June, according to the Federal States
This is the lowest rate since March 2014 — back around when Russia annexed Crimea — and below economists’ expectations of a slight dip to 7.4% yoy.
Assuming that there’s no huge uptick in inflation in August, this suggests that the Central Bank of Russia could start easing again at its next meeting in September.
“Today’s weaker-than-expected CPI figure will help to allay the [Monetary Policy Committee’s] concern’s about the strength of inflation,” argued William Jackson, Senior Emerging Markets Economist at Capital Economics, in a note.
“We think inflation will have eased further this month and, barring an upside surprise, the MPC is likely to resume its easing cycle next month,” he added.
Last week, the Central Bank of Russia held its ground, leaving rates unchanged at 10.50% following its first cut in over a year in June. In the accompanying statement, the bank noted that it would take “estimates for inflation risks and the alignment of inflation decline with the forecast trajectory” into consideration when deciding future cuts.
“At the meeting last month, policymakers expressed concerns that core inflation had stopped falling, which factored into their decision to leave the one-week repo rate unchanged,” added Jackson. “They should therefore welcome the fresh drop in core inflation in today’s data.”
The bank’s latest meeting followed the release of a conversation between president Vladimir Putin and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in mid-July during which the former suggested the ruble’s recent strength requires a government response. At the time, some analysts were worried that this could inspire the bank to cut rates faster or to artificially weaken the ruble.
The ruble is up by 0.1% at 66.2004 per dollar as of 10:37 a.m. ET.