MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's economy expanded by 1.6 percent in the first quarter, the Federal Statistics Office confirmed on Monday, giving a breakdown of production that showed a sharp decline in output of mineral resources.
The first quarter growth rate was the slowest since 2009, and represented a decline in year-on-year growth from 3.4 percent in 2012 as a whole.
Resource extraction - which encompasses oil, gas, coal and metals - declined by 4.9 percent, year on year, confirming anecdotal evidence that Russia's metallurgical sector is having a rough time as demand and prices slide.
The soft patch in Russia's $2 trillion economy has forced the government to revise down its full-year growth forecast by a third to 2.4 percent, but policy makers have yet to take any meaningful steps to stimulate growth.
President Vladimir Putin, in a budget strategy address last week, urged the government to focus on top-priority development projects but said Russia would not be able to keep raising public spending for ever.
Calls have also mounted for lower interest rates to give the economy a lift, and with Putin's economic adviser Elvira Nabiullina to take the helm of the central bank an interest rate cut could come as soon as next month, economists say.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Jason Bush and Megan Davies)
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