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Russian inflation at 0.24% in first nine days of 2023

Vendors sell vegetables and other foodstuffs in a street in Izhevsk

(Reuters) -Russian consumer prices rose by 0.24% in the first nine days of January, but at a slower pace than in the same period of last year, the Rosstat federal statistics agency said on Wednesday.

Russia's annual rate of inflation was 11.9% during 2022, Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said earlier on Tuesday. The speed of inflation has been declining for months after sharp price rises in Russia last spring following the imposition of sanctions over the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Reshetnikov said he expects inflation to fall below the central bank's 4% target on an annual basis by the second quarter of this year. But that is likely to be a temporary trend owing to the high base effect of the second quarter of 2022 - which featured rapid price rises - and the central bank said it expects inflation will not return to a stable level of 4% until 2024.

Rosstat said prices for fruit and vegetables rose by 6.5% between Jan. 1 and Jan. 9 during Russia's extended New Year holidays.

During the first 10 days of 2022 prices rose by 0.56%, or more than twice as fast as the rate so far this year, Rosstat said, in a sign that Russia's disinflationary trends have continued into 2023.

In a separate set of data on Wednesday, Russia's economy ministry said that annual inflation was running at 11.65% as of Jan. 9.

(Reporting by Darya KorsunskayaEditing by William Maclean and David Goodman)