Economists pushed back forecasts for a cut in Russia's benchmarkrate today after the central bank said that inflation would slow tonext year's target of 5 percent only in the second half.

Monetary-policy makers held the one-week auction rate, thebenchmark introduced in September, at 5.5 percent at their meetingtoday, the Moscow-based central bank said today in a statement onits website. That matched the forecasts of all 23 economists in aBloomberg survey.

Central bank Chairman Elvira Nabiullina, the former aide toPresident Vladimir Putin who took the post in June, is focused ontaming consumer-price growth to help the economy, rather than ratecuts. Inflation was 6.5 percent from a year earlier as of Dec. 9,unchanged from November, according to the statement.

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