Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Retail Inflation Stays Below RBI Target For Second Month In A Row

Priscilla Morrison | 13 October, 2018, 11:41

At 3.77 per cent, the overall retail inflation rate is within the RBI's inflation rate projection 4 per cent in July-September and 3.9-4.5 per cent in October-March.

Factory output growth slipped to a three-month low of 4.3 per cent in August due to a sharp slump in mining output growth and moderation in primary goods output, alongside the impact of a high base. Inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index (Combined) had stood at 3.28 per cent in September past year.

According to data showed by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, the food inflation for September stood at 1.08 percent compared to 0.29 percent in August, while the fuel and light inflation is unchanged at 8.47 percent. The median of 39 estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a 4.02 percent gain.

India's headline inflation data is subdued for now, but there are mounting risks that are hard to ignore: a currency at a record-low, high oil prices, and looming elections that's prompting the government to raise food prices to placate farmers. The cumulative growth rate over the April to August 2018 period stands at 5.2%. "So much so that it could help mitigate a lot of pain because of the rise in crude prices and a falling rupee", Tushar Arora, senior economist, HDFC Bank told news agency Reuters. Food prices increased by 0.94% in rural areas and reduced by 0.22% in urban areas in September - a combined increase of 0.51%, faster than the 0.29% inflation in August.

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"Given the massive depreciation of the rupee and elevated crude oil prices, RBI will have to resort to policy rate signals sooner than later". The IIP growth is the lowest since May when industrial production grew at 3.9 per cent. Factory growth expanded by 6.8 per cent in June and 6.5 per cent in July.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, eyeing a second term in general elections early next year, worries that rising retail petrol and diesel prices and a weakening currency could undercut his efforts to boost economic growth. "The mild uptick in the CPI inflation in September 2018 is in line with our expectation of a sub-4 per cent print for that month".

In response to these risks, the MPC changed it's monetary policy stance to calibrated tightening, even though it did not hike rates.

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