Russia First-Quarter GDP Growth Around 1 Percent, 2013 Figure Likely Cut: Minister

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Russia's economy grew by a lower-than-expected 1 percent in the first quarter of 2013, which is likely to force a cut in the GDP forecast for the full year, Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said on Sunday.

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Russia's economy grew by a lower-than-expected 1 percent in the first quarter of 2013, which is likely to force a cut in the GDP forecast for the full year, Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said on Sunday.

"The results of the first quarter seem to be worse (than expected)," Belousov told journalists on the way to Hanover as part of an official visit, adding that growth in gross domestic product in the first quarter probably stood at around 1 percent.

"If we had zero (growth) in the first quarter, then where to go?" Belousov said. "For me, 1 percent or 0 percent, there is no difference."

He said the ministry would cut the 2013 GDP forecast to below 3 percent in a conservative scenario to as much as around 3.2 percent in an optimistic one.

"I can say for sure that in our (new) forecast for 2013 we will cut estimates for exports of natural gas, (and) investment estimates will be lowered. Consequently, the pace of GDP growth will also be lowered," he said.

The ministry had earlier estimated that the Russian economy was likely to grow by 3.6 percent this year. It warned at the end of March that it would probably cut its GDP forecast for 2013.

Belousov said the ministry would keep its 5 to 6 percent inflation forecast for the year, counting on a slowing rate in consumer price rises in the coming months. Annual inflation came at 7 percent in March.

"Looking at it now, we can reach 5.8 to 6 percent for the year," Belousov added, echoing estimates by the Russian central bank.

Consumer prices traditionally stabilize or fall in the summer months, when supply of fruit and vegetables increases.

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