Russia Eyes Biggest Rate Hike Since 2014
The Bank of Russia may increase interest rates by the most since the ruble crisis in 2014 as it struggles to contain surging inflation.
Annual inflation has risen to a five-year high of 6.5% and inflation expectations have jumped, setting back Governor Elvira Nabiullina’s efforts to bring price growth below a 4% target. She’s already raised rates 125 basis points this year but economists see much more coming.
The majority of 37 economists polled by Bloomberg expect a 100 basis-point increase Friday, while 17 predict hikes of 50 or 75 basis points and one sees a hold.
A one percentage-point increase would be a boost for the ruble and OFZ bonds, Amundi money manager Sergei Strigo said by email, “as it probably means that Bank of Russia is getting closer towards the end of the hiking cycle.” The ruble is one of the top four emerging-markets performers this year, little changed against the dollar.
The Bank of Russia has warned that most of the factors pushing up inflation are likely to last, saying it won’t be able to get price growth back to its target until the second half of next year. The central bank is expected to update its rate and economic forecasts Friday.
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An increase of 75 basis points or more would be the biggest upward step since the central bank raised rates 6.5 percentage points during the 2014 ruble crisis, in the wake of an oil price rout and western sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
What our economists say:
“Another big hike from the Bank of Russia could come with a subtle shift in guidance. The door will stay open for further tightening, but not much, unless inflation continues to surprise.” - Scott Johnson, Bloomberg Economics
A 100 basis-point rate hike will likely “be the last one this year given the declining inflation dynamics,” Loomis Sayles analyst Ksenia Mishankina said by email. She expects Bank of Russia “to become more dovish thereafter with a potential rate decline as soon as next year.”
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