1. Near zero inflation in December puts pressure on RBI to cut rates

Near zero inflation in December puts pressure on RBI to cut rates

Plunging global oil markets helps post slower-than-expected wholesale price inflation in December, raising hopes for an early cut in interest rates.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: January 14, 2015 7:36 PM
Inflation, WPI inflation, food price

Plunging global oil markets helped India post slower-than-expected wholesale price inflation in December. (Reuters)

Headline inflation for December rose marginally 0.11 per cent compared to a zero per cent growth during the previous month, as food price inflation rose 5.2 per cent as against 0.63 per cent growth in November.

According to the data released by the commerce and industry ministry, the wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation was -0.28 per cent compared to 5.58 per cent during the same period a year ago.

However, the rate of price rise in manufactured products declined to 1.57 per cent compared to 2.04 per cent in November while that of fuel and power contracted 7.82 per cent compared to a contraction of 4.91 per cent during the previous month. Inflation in primary articles comprising food products, vegetables, cereals and protein-rich items rose to 2.17 per cent compared -0.98 per cent in November.

Earlier, retail inflation based on the consumer price index (CPI) rose marginally to 5 per cent during the month compared to 4.38 per cent in the previous month, though within the comfort zone of the Reserve bank of India, raising hopes that the central bank may soften its policy stance in the forthcoming monetary policy review in February.

India Inc wants rate cut, says inflation likely to remain low

(PTI) Notwithstanding the marginal rise in December inflation, India Inc today said low oil prices and measures undertaken by the government are likely to keep inflation under check, even as it reiterated the need for an interest rate cut by the RBI to kick start growth.

“Given the slow pace of global recovery and expectations of oil prices to remain at low levels going forward, inflation is expected to remain under control,” said Ficci President Jyotsna Suri.

“To give a boost to the capex cycle, there is an urgent need for lowering of lending rates. Since the inflation is largely under control, we urge the RBI to ease the monetary policy,” she added.

Reversing a six month declining trend, WPI inflation moved up marginally to 0.11 per cent in December mainly due to increase in prices of food items.

“Going forward, the moderation of global commodity prices and the measures taken by the government to contain the inflation would help rein in inflationary expectations and prevent inflation from making a comeback in a big way,” said CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.

“We hope that the conducive inflationary situation would spur RBI to move away from its inflation-centric approach to policy making and focus on rejuvenating growth in the economy and industry, in its forthcoming monetary policy,” he added.

Inflation measured on Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was at zero in November.

“Policy makers need to cut the interest rates in order to induce the producers to augment the supply of goods and services on one hand and increase the domestic demand on the other,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

“Inflation worries are behind us and current demand and supply dynamics indicate that inflation will consolidate at around 3 per cent (average) in 2015,” PHD Chamber President Alok B Shriram said.

India’s benign inflation data fuels rate cut calls

(Reuters) Plunging global oil markets helped India post slower-than-expected wholesale price inflation in December, raising hopes for an early cut in interest rates to help the economy out of its longest phase of sub-par growth since the 1980s.

The wholesale price index (WPI) rose 0.11 percent year-on-year compared with a 0.6 percent jump forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. Wholesale prices were unchanged in November.

Data released on Monday showed consumer price inflation quickened at a slower-than-expected pace of 5 percent in December, remaining well within the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) medium-term target of 6 percent.

With a near 60 percent fall in global oil prices since last June and food prices remaining in check despite poor monsoon rains last summer, some analysts expect the RBI to reduce its repo rate at a policy review on Feb. 3. The repo rate has stood at 8.0 percent for the past year.

“Falls in commodity prices have brought down WPI, CPI (consumer price index) alike,” said Aneesh Srivastava, chief investment officer at IDBI Federal Life Insurance.

Wholesale fuel prices fell an annual 7.82 percent last month, their biggest fall since September 2009. Month-on-month, the prices were down 2.4 percent.

Similarly, food prices recorded a 1.9 percent fall in December from a month earlier. However, they were up 5.2 percent year-on-year compared with a 0.63 percent gain in November.

“All indicators now point that the RBI should cut rates by at least 25 basis points in its next policy meeting on Feb. 3,” said Srivastava.

However, some analysts say RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan may delay the rate cuts amid mounting concerns over the government’s fiscal health.

Sluggish revenue receipts have driven up the federal fiscal deficit to 99 percent of the full-year target in just the first eight months of the year that ends in March, casting doubts on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s ability to trim the shortfall to a seven-year low of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Concerned over slow economic growth, some government aides are also pushing to row back on fiscal deficit targets when Jaitley announces the 2015/16 federal budget next month. They have advocated more spending on infrastructure projects that could lift growth.

Rajan, however, has set fiscal consolidation as a pre-condition for lowering rates.

“Given the uncertainties, the RBI might prefer to monitor the content of the end-February’s budget and credibility of fiscal targets before easing rates,” said Radhika Rao, an economist at DBS Bank in Singapore.

“This suggests rate cuts might begin April 2015 onwards, with a small probability of inter-meeting cut in March.”

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