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    Russia Heads Into 2017 With Highest Business Confidence in Five Years

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    Russian Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said that a wide range of indicators is showing signs of improvement in Russian economy.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia's business confidence stands at the highest level in over five years, the country's Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said Wednesday.

    "Today we discussed issues related to the economic situation. There are certain positive news, the economy entering 2017 with more confidence, showing economic growth. A rise of positive business sentiment has been noted. Business confidence indexes are now at the level of 2011-2012, at the highest level in five or six years," Oreshkin said after attending a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and government ministers.

    A wide range of economic indicators is showing signs of improvement, he added, stressing that the positive trends have been bolstered by rising confidence.

    "This is a positive impulse for the economy and is already being reflected in various indicators, including increased industrial production growth compared to mid-2016. Rail freight is increasing, as well as electricity consumption, even given the cold weather, which, of course, also influenced this indicator," the minister said.

    Late 2016 surveys by Russian Federal Statistics Service Rosstat indicated a sharp rise in manufacturing business confidence, which reached the highest level in two years by September. Further rises were recorded through the least months of the year.

    Oreshkin recently took over the reins of the Russian economy, which has gone through a period of recession in 2015 and 2016. The new minister replaced his predecessor Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, who is now under a corruption investigation, in December. The timing coincided with an apparent turnaround of the Russian economy.

    In 2016, Russia's economy is estimated to have grown by just 0.5 percent after contracting almost 4 percent the previous year amid Western sanctions and falling oil prices. The first three quarters saw negative growth rates before a slight GDP increase in the fourth quarter. The ministry's 2017 baseline scenario forecast is a GDP increase of 0.6 percent. Growth is expected to further recover in the subsequent years, growing 1.7 percent in 2018 and 2.1 percent in 2019.

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