RBI Seen Holding Rates As Retail Inflation Hits Seven-Month High


Annual consumer inflation rose to a seven-month high of 3.58 per cent in October from a year ago, mainly driven by higher prices of food and fuel, government data showed on Monday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected October’s retail inflation at 3.46 per cent, up from 3.28 per cent in September.

Here’s what experts said:

Indranil Pan, group economist, IDFC Bank:

“The inflation print was higher than our expectation. The uncertainty over impact of oil prices and extent of currency depreciation on inflation remains. Even if the GST rate cuts have a downside impact on inflation, it will be neutralised by higher oil and other commodity prices and currency depreciation. Given these facts there is no chance of RBI cutting rates going ahead.”

Rupa Rege Nitsure, group chief economist, L&T Financial:

“A sharp increase of 30 basis points in overall inflation to 3.58 per cent on the back of an increase of 50 basis points in food inflation, and an uptick of 80 bps in fuel inflation rules out a remote chance of policy rate cut in December. Hardening trends in global crude prices and growth robustness in the US would keep RBI’s hands tied.”

“Luckily, core inflation – ex food and ex fuel has come in at 4.6 per cent – unchanged from the previous month’s level. This shows continued weaknesses in demand.”

A Prasanna, economist, ICICI Securities Primary Dealership:

“The October inflation is slightly above our estimate due to higher food prices. The normalization of food prices is continuing and we expect food inflation to continue rising till April-June 2018. Core inflation was flat over September in year-on-year terms but this masks a fall in fuel prices and a likely rise in core excluding fuel.”

“Overall, inflation trajectory continues to track slightly below the monetary policy committee (MPC) fanchart. We expect March CPI to print around 4.3 per cent. While the recent GST rate changes could pose some downside risk to this estimate, crude prices pose an upside risk.”

“All said, we expect the MPC to maintain the status quo on policy even as their commentary will continue to be neutral to hawkish.”

Tushar Arora, senior economist, HDFC Bank:

“Today’s reading has reaffirmed our position that the inflation trajectory in the second half of this year could be lower than the RBI’s projected path of 4.2 per cent to 4.6 per cent. Whether this transpires into a rate cut or not would depend on the central bank’s intent to utilize the plus or minus 2 per cent band (around its 4 per cent target).”

“In our view, though there is a risk of breaching the 4 percent target, the breach is unlikely to be substantial. While international commodity prices continue to rise, there are some offsetting factors vis-a-vis a cut in the GST rates and excise duty on petroleum products, and prudent increases in the minimum support prices of Rabi crops.”

Radhika Rao, group economist, DBS:

“Inflation has ticked up in October, a shade higher than consensus and our expectations. Food inflation ticked up due to a combination of base effects and higher perishables. Non-food pressures are a bigger problem at hand, from multiple fronts, from the fuel angle if the oil price spike is sharp and sustained, coupled with one-off impact of rent allowance and GST impact.”

“October’s CPI and the likelihood that the 4 per cent target will be tested in the next quarter, reinforces our expectations that the RBI will stay on hold in December and in the rest of fiscal 2018. On the fiscal end, we expect a modest slippage in the targets due to lower revenue generation.”