MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – Concerns about the Russian economy grew following data published Wednesday showing that investment by Russian companies fell 7 percent last month as compared with January 2012.
The data, published by state statistics service Rosstat on its website, reinforced fears that the economy has become mired in stagnation.
Russian business newspaper Vedomosti cited an unnamed senior economic official as saying the economy had in all likelihood contracted last month.
A Reuters poll of analysts had predicted a 0.5 percent rise in investment, largely due to a boost from preparations for the Sochi Olympics.
The news comes amid already lackluster growth in the country, just 1.3 percent last year, and some experts are beginning to fear that the economy is stumbling after having exhausted the recipe for growth that has proven effective for the country for more than a decade: boosting hydrocarbon production amid rising world prices.
Redirecting the economy would require a diversification into other industries, something that Russia has consistently struggled to do in the past.
Federal initiatives to boost innovation have been hampered by corruption, bloated bureaucracies and low labor productivity.
The ruble is continuing a slide begun last year, and its value against a euro-dollar basket tracked by the Central Bank on Wednesday reached a historic low.