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Putin warns Ruble's gains hurt Russia's economic growth

President Vladimir Putin told Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin the government should seek to curb the ruble's appreciation as it may hurt Russia's economy. Putin raised concerns about the exchange rate in a meeting with Kudrin in Sochi, a Russian resort on the Black Sea, according to a statement posted today on the Kremlin's Web site. The ruble has gained 7.3% against the dollar this year, amid record foreign currency inflows from oil sales, undermining domestic industries as they compete against imports. Kudrin's ministry last week said Russia's plans to increase state spending may push inflation above the government's forecast or lead to an “excessive” rise in the ruble. “The statistics and the real situation in the economy shows that the strengthening of the ruble could be critical this year for our national economy,” NTV reported Putin as saying earlier today, while airing footage of the meeting. Kudrin said ruble growth can be kept within limits already laid down by the government and that oil prices were the main threat to those efforts, in remarks broadcast by NTV. (Bloomberg)