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Russia Holds Key Rate Unchanged After September Hike

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Russia's central bank left its key interest rate unchanged in October after hiking it for the first time since 2014 in a surprise move in the previous month.

The Board of Directors decided to hold the key rate at 7.50 percent, the Bank of Russia said in a statement on Thursday, in line with economists' expectations.

In September, the rate was hiked by a quarter-basis point.

"The domestic financial market has stabilized in the time since the previous Board meeting," the central bank said.

"However, pro-inflationary risks remain elevated, especially over a short-term horizon."

The uncertainty over future external conditions persists, the bank added.

The bank said it "will consider the necessity of further increases in the key rate, taking into account inflation and economic dynamics against the forecast, as well as risks posed by external conditions and the reaction of financial markets."

The Bank of Russia forecast annual inflation to be 5-5.5 percent in 2019 and return to 4 percent in 2020, when the effects of the ruble's weakening and the value added tax rise peter out.

Headline inflation was 3.4 percent in September and 3.5 percent according to the October 22 estimate. This suggests inflation is on track to return to the 4 percent, the bank said.

The central bank left its 2018 growth forecast unchanged at 1.5-2 percent. Growth is seen in a range between 1.2 percent and 1.7 percent next year.

The next policy session is scheduled for December 14.

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