Russia’s economy decreased substantially last year, hampered by a combination of low oil prices, international sanctions, a sharp depreciation of the ruble and structural weakness. GDP decreased 3.8% annually in Q4 2015 as it was dragged down by a steep deterioration in domestic demand. Recent economic indicators, however, suggest that the seeds of an incipient recovery appear to have been sown. In February, industrial production expanded for the first time in a year and unemployment, although still high, continues to be stable. Moreover, oil prices rose further from the multi-year lows seen in February and, with the rally, the ruble has gained part of the ground it had lost in the past weeks. On a negative note, business activity in the manufacturing sector remained depressed in March, but activity in services providers did continue to expand.
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