Russia's GDP rises 8.4% in the first two Months

Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) increased 8.4% and industrial output expanded 8.6% in the first two months of 2007, the economics minister said Monday.

"These indices are very optimistic," German Gref said at a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and government members.

The economics ministry said earlier that Russia's GDP had increased by an estimated 6.8% year-on-year in 2006. The ministry projects GDP growth at 6.2% and inflation at 6.5-8% in 2007

Retail trade grew 13.9%, fixed capital investment was up 21.2% and real wages climbed 17.5% in January-February 2007, the economics minister said.

Gref also said Russia's inflation totaled 0.3% on March 1-12 and 3.1% from the start of the year to March 12, adding that this figure was 33% lower than in the same period of last year.

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