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Putin says Russian economy is on the mend

MOSCOW Russia’s economic contraction is slowing, capital flight is fading and real wages are starting to recover, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Speaking at an annual end-of-year news conference, Putin said the Russian economy was on track to contract by 0.5-0.6 percent this year, while inflation for the whole of 2016 was likely to reach 5.5 percent.

Putin said the budget deficit was seen at 3.7 percent of gross domestic product, while net capital outflow was seen at up to $17 billion.

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova, Vladimir Soldatkin and Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Andrew Osborn)