Russian Industrial Production Drops In May

Federal Statistics Service reported that manufacturing dropped 17 percent in May on the month after losing another 17 percent in April.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's industrial production plummeted 17 percent in May, the government said Tuesday, further evidence that the country's economy is still nowhere near stabilizing, let alone recovering.

Government officials have voiced confidence in recent weeks that the recession has bottomed out and Russia would start seeing a moderate growth.

But the Federal Statistics Service reported that manufacturing dropped 17 percent in May on the month after losing another 17 percent in April.

Industrial output is now down 15.4 percent from a year ago.

Gross domestic production, meanwhile, declined nearly 10 percent in the first quarter. Economists and the government predict it will decline by 6 to 8 percent this year.

Russia is facing its worst economic crisis in a decade as oil prices have dropped, the ruble has sunk and the credit markets dried up.

A recent rebound in oil prices and a slightly lower unemployment rate had prompted Russian officials to give upbeat reports that the worst is over, but the official data has yet to confirm that.

In neighboring Ukraine, the state statistics agency said industrial output shrank by a stunning 32 percent in the first five months of the year, as global demand for metals and chemicals, the country's main export commodities, continued to decline.

Ukraine is relying on a $16.4 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund to avoid collapse. So far Kiev has received less than half of those funds as the government and lawmakers struggle to meet strict fiscal stabilization requirements.

Ukraine's economy is among the hardest hit in Europe. The IMF forecasts its economy will contract 8 percent this year and inflation will reach 16.8 percent.

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