(MENAFN - AFP) Russia's third-quarter growth rate fell well below expectations on Friday in a fresh blow to government hopes of avoiding the worst performance for the economy since the 2008-2009 economic collapse.
Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach said the economy expanded by 1.2 percent between July in September compared to output in the same period in 2012.
The annual rate was the same as in the second quarter and slower than the 1.6-percent rise witnessed in the first three months of the year.
"The third quarter was not one of economic revival," Interfax quoted Klepach as saying.
"The stagnation continues," said Klepach. "There is a pause in growth."
Klepach said a closer look at the figures revealed disappointing signs of an economy that was losing momentum rather than gathering pace.
Seasonally-adjusted growth slowed by 0.1 percent in September from August. The figure for that month was 0.1 percent less that the one in July.
Both the government and economists had expected Russia's economy to pick up pace in the second half of the year and reach an annual rate of about 1.8 percent.
President Vladimir Putin had initially promised growth of 5.0 percent in 2013 -- a figure that was meant to improve on the 3.4-4.0 percent yearly performances witnessed between 2010 and 2012.
Bank of America Merill Lynch had predicted growth of 1.6-1.7 percent in the third quarter -- a slight downgrade from its own earlier estimate.
It attributed Russia's latest disappointment to a poor harvest that was damaged by one of the wettest autumns in years.
"We think that the disappointing rate of improvement can be attributed partly to the poor weather conditions, which have constrained potentially strong agricultural output this year," said Bank Of America Merill Lynch analyst Vladimir Osakovsky.
"Russia experienced the rainiest September in its recorded history this year, which triggered floods in some producing regions and severely constrained the harvesting campaign."
He noted that a large part of a harvest that was expected to grow by 30 percent on last year "seems now to have been lost."