Russian central bank holds rates at 7.5%, flags rising inflation risks


This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

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MOSCOW, June 9 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank held its key interest rate at 7.5% as expected on Friday, but said inflation risks were rising and that it would hold open the prospect of increasing the key rate at upcoming meetings.

Annual inflation, which spiked to over 20-year highs in 2022, has slowed to below the bank's 4% target in recent months as last year's base effect took hold. But it is expected to pick up, with consumer prices rising 0.21% in the week to June 5.

The Bank of Russia forecasts year-end inflation at 4.5-6.5% in 2023, returning to the 4% target in 2024.

"Given gradually rising inflationary pressures, the Bank of Russia holds open the prospect of increasing the key rate at its next meetings to stabilise inflation close to 4% in 2024 and further on," the central bank said in a statement.

In a series of rate cuts last year, the bank gradually reversed an emergency hike that took the rate to 20% in late February 2022. That jump followed Russia's launch of what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, and the imposition of wide-ranging Western sanctions in response.

The bank has maintained a hawkish stance this year, unable to find room to ease monetary policy. On Friday it said the overall balance of inflation risks has "tilted even more to the upside".

"Accelerating fiscal spending, deteriorating terms of foreign trade and the situation in the labour market remain pro-inflationary risk drivers," the bank said.

Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina was due to give a media briefing at 1200 GMT.

The next rate-setting meeting is scheduled for July 21.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)


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