WPI inflation hits double digits in April at 10.49 pc; prices of food items, crude harden

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Updated: May 17, 2021 5:04 PM

The WPI inflation was 7.39 per cent in March 2021, and (-) 1.57 per cent in April 2020. This is the fourth straight month of uptick seen in the wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation.

Nagpal, who participated in the discussion, has suggested roll back of 5% GST on mustard seed and mustard oil as it will immediately lower edible oil price by Rs 7-8/kg.Nagpal, who participated in the discussion, has suggested roll back of 5% GST on mustard seed and mustard oil as it will immediately lower edible oil price by Rs 7-8/kg.

The wholesale price-based inflation shot up to an all-time high of 10.49 per cent in April, on rising prices of food items, crude oil and manufactured goods, and experts believe that the uptrend is likely to continue. This is the fourth straight month of uptick seen in the wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation. In March, 2021, it was 7.39 per cent.

The low base in April last year, when WPI inflation was (-) 1.57 per cent, also contributed to the spike in April 2021. “The annual rate of inflation in April 2021, is high primarily because of rise in prices of crude petroleum, mineral oils viz petrol, diesel etc, and manufactured products as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

Inflation in food articles in April was 4.92 per cent as prices of protein-rich items like egg, meat and fish hardened. Inflation in this basket was 3.24 per cent in March 2021. This was led by 10.88 per cent inflation in ‘egg, meat and fish’ basket during April, 10.74 per cent in pulses and 27.43 per cent in fruits. In vegetables, the rate of price rise was (-) 9.03 per cent, against (-) 5.19 per cent in the previous month.

Inflation in the fuel and power basket was 20.94 per cent in April, while in manufactured products it was 9.01 per cent. ICRA Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said at 4.9 per cent inflation in food articles was at a six-month high and data shows a greater impact of supply chain disruptions at the wholesale level.

“We expect the headline WPI inflation to rise further to 13-13.5 per cent in the current month before commencing a downtrend, whereas the core-WPI inflation may continue to rise over the next three prints to a peak of around 10.5 per cent.

“The likely trajectory of the WPI inflation supports our view that there is no space for rate cuts to support the faltering growth momentum, even as we expect the monetary stance to remain accommodative,” Nayar added. India Ratings and Research Principal Economist Sunil Kumar Sinha said the impetus to April 2021 inflation came from all the three major groups namely primary article, fuel and power and manufactured products which recorded an inflation of 10.2 per cent, 20.9 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in April 2021.

“Within food components except cereals many major items such as pulses, fruits, eggs, meat, tea etc recorded double digit inflation. In April 2021 core inflation rose to 8.3 per cent. Even inflation ex-fruit and vegetables rose to 10.7 per cent in April indicating that the upsurge in wholesale inflation is not only due to seasonal factors,” Sinha added.

He further said that commodities such as minerals, edible oil, crude oil, coal, fertilisers, plastic, basic metals, electrical/electronic items, auto and auto components etc collectively have a weight of about 44 per cent in the WPI. Since the global prices of these items are mostly a pass through into domestic prices, a surge in global commodity prices have put significant pressure on the headline wholesale inflation.

Nayar said: “There is a growing divergence in terms of the global optimism related to the vaccine rollout, which is pushing up commodity prices, vs. the weaker domestic sentiment engendered by the continuing impact of the second wave of COVID-19 infections in India”. Data released last week showed retail inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), eased to 4.29 per cent in April.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das had earlier this month said that manufacturing and services PMIs along with rising WPI inflation show a persistence of input price pressure. Also, the build-up in input price pressures across sectors, driven in part by elevated global commodity prices, remains a concern. “The inflation trajectory over the rest of the year will be shaped by the COVID-19 infections and the impact of localised containment measures on supply chains and logistics,” Das had said.

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