A shop worker arranges the cans of Iranian tomato paste at a super market in the city of Najaf, Iraq October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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Tomato paste is not the most obvious economic indicator, but in Iran, where it is a staple that some people have started panic-buying, it says a lot about the impact of renewed U.S. sanctions.With U.S. curbs on Iran's oil exports set to come into force next month, some Iranians fear their country is entering an economic slump that may prove worse than the period from 2012 to 2015, when it last faced major sanctions.An 800-gram can of tomato paste was selling in Tehran stores for around 60,000 rials in March; it is now 180,000 rials, or $1.24 at the unofficial rate, prompting a scramble by households to stock up.The International Monetary Fund predicted this week that the economy would shrink 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2019, before recovering slowly.Peyman Mohammadian, 28, an unemployed university graduate in the city of Andimeshk, said he had tried to protect 5 billion rials in savings by converting them into dollars last month at a rate of 183,000 .
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