Inflation Target 4%, RBI Presses Repo Pause Button Again

Inflation Target 4%, RBI Presses Repo Pause Button Again

Rate Unchanged At 6.5%

Globally, major global markets losing momentum, inflation beyond target, says RBI Governor

MJMBAI, Oct 6 (The CONNECT) - The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.50 per cent.

The standing deposit facility (SDF) rate remains unchanged at 6.25 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent.

The MPC also decided to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation progressively aligns to the target, while supporting growth.

These decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth, the RBI said.

On the global scenario, the central bank observed that growth is losing momentum. Inflation is easing gradually but remains well above target in major economies. Concerns about higher for longer rates are imparting volatility to global financial markets. Sovereign bond yields have hardened, the US dollar has appreciated, and equity markets have corrected. Emerging market economies (EMEs) are experiencing currency depreciation and volatile capital flows.

On the domestic front, the RBI said real gross domestic product (GDP) posted a growth of 7.8 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in Q1:2023-24 (April-June), underpinned by private consumption and investment demand.

The south-west monsoon rainfall recovered during September and ended 6 per cent below the long period average. The acreage under kharif crops was 0.2 per cent higher than a year ago. The index of industrial production rose by 5.7 per cent in July; core industries output expanded by 12.1 per cent in August. Purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) and other high frequency indicators of the services sector exhibited healthy expansion in August-September.

On the demand front, urban consumption is buoyant while rural demand is showing signs of revival. Investment activity is benefitting from public sector capex. Strong growth is seen in steel consumption, cement production as well as in imports and production of capital goods. Merchandise exports and non-oil non-gold imports remained in contraction in August, although the pace of decline eased. Services exports improved in August, the RBI said.

CPI headline inflation surged by 2.6 percentage points to 7.4 per cent in July due to spike in vegetable prices, before moderating somewhat in August to 6.8 per cent. Fuel inflation edged up to 4.3 per cent in August. Core inflation (i.e., CPI excluding food and fuel) softened to 4.9 per cent during July-August 2023.

As on September 22, 2023, money supply (M3) expanded by 10.8 per cent (y-o-y) and bank credit grew by 15.3 per cent. India’s foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 586.9 billion as on September 29, 2023.

The near-term inflation outlook is expected to improve on the back of vegetable price correction and the recent reduction in LPG prices. The future trajectory will be conditioned by a number of factors like lower area sown under pulses, dip in reservoir levels, El Niño conditions and volatile global energy and food prices.

According to the Reserve Bank’s enterprise surveys, manufacturing firms expect higher input cost pressures but marginally lower growth in selling prices in Q3 compared to the previous quarter. Services and infrastructure firms expect a moderation in growth of input costs and selling prices. Taking into account these factors, CPI inflation is projected at 5.4 per cent for 2023-24, with Q2 at 6.4 per cent, Q3 at 5.6 per cent and Q4 at 5.2 per cent, with risks evenly balanced. CPI inflation for Q1:2024-25 is projected at 5.2 per cent.

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