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    Output grew in industry, construction and transport branches in January-February 2004. There was a significant expansion in retail and wholesale trade turnovers, while agricultural production declined.

    Industrial output grew 8.1% in January-February 2004 compared to the same period last year. Excluding seasonal and random factors, output in February rose 0.6% month on month.

    According to estimates, output in export-oriented industries increased 0.7% in February month on month, in industries manufacturing goods for export and for the domestic market 1.3% and in industries oriented to the domestic market 0.4%. Estimates show that the biggest contribution to industrial production growth in January-February 2004 was made by machine-building and metalworking industry, the fuel sector and food industry (in January-February 2003, it was the non-ferrous metallurgy sector, fuel sector and ferrous metallurgy sector).

    Output expanded 0.2% in the electric-power industry in January-February 2004 compared to the same period last year, 9.3% in the fuel sector, 8.8% in the ferrous metallurgy sector, 1.7% in the non-ferrous metallurgy sector, 11.9% in the building materials industry and 8.7% in the wood and paper industry. A high level of investment activity stimulated production in the engineering industry, which registered a 19.8% rise in output in January-February 2004. The most significant growth was registered in the investment sub-sectors of the engineering industry (the production of hoisting and transport equipment and railway engineering) and car-making.

    Production growth in food industry (valued at 6.9%) in January-February 2004 was stimulated by high consumer demand, but production activity in the light industry declined 2.7% due to low demand.

    As of the beginning of March 2004, industrial companies had a backlog of orders which, at the current utilisation ratio, allowed them to continue production for 3.7 months, or a little longer than a year earlier (3.6 months).

    According to the Russian Government’s Centre for Economic Studies, production at key industrial enterprises in February was stimulated by high demand. Most enterprises described their backlog of orders as "adequate" or "normal" at 62% against 58% in 2003. Production growth in recent years ensured a fairly high utilisation ratio (57%).

    The freight turnover of transport companies rose 7.7% in January-February 2004 compared to the same period last year. Rail transport expanded freight turnover by 8.2%, automobile transport 5.4%, inland water transport 42% and pipeline transport 8.4%.

    Agricultural output declined 1.3% in January-February 2004 compared to the same period last year. The production of milk fell 1.7% and eggs 1.3%, while meat production increased 2.2%. Grain sales by agricultural enterprises in January-February 2004 contracted 39.3% compared to the same period last year, to 1 million tonnes.

    The output index for the key branches of the economy (industry, agriculture, construction, transport and retail trade) gained 8.3% in January-February 2004 year on year.


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