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[MOSCOW] Russian manufacturing activity shrank in December, a business survey showed on Wednesday, suggesting the country's economic downturn has yet to run its course.
The Markit purchasing managers' index for the sector fell to 48.7 from 50.1 the previous month, slipping below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for the first time since September.
"Recent months appeared to signal a shift in the sector to a higher gear," said Samuel Agass, economist at Markit, which compiles the survey. "However, latest survey figures suggest manufacturers may endure a challenging start to 2016 unless some action can be taken to stimulate demand for goods," he said.
The survey showed that manufacturers' output, new orders and backlogs of work all slipped in December, while price pressures due to the weaker rouble remained high and employment levels continued to slump.
President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that the economy had passed the peak of the crisis brought on by Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict and the collapse in oil prices.
But independent economists say the "bottom" for growth remains elusive.