With India’s economic growth sputtering, the Reserve Bank of India was expected to maintain a rate-cutting cycle, but an uptick in near-term inflation could give the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee reason to pause for now.
Having cut its key lending rate by an aggressive 115 basis points (bps) in 2020, on top of 135 bps cuts in 2019, the RBI so far has had little success in spurring credit growth amid varying degrees of lockdowns across India.
Some economists and market insiders argue it may be prudent for the MPC, the policy committee, to hold its fire when it meets early next month.
“It’s probably too early to administer a demand stimulus. The RBI still has room to cut rates, but we probably want to be more cautious of the timing,” said Venkat Pasupuleti, portfolio manager at Dalton Investments.
“Maybe they should wait a quarter to see how things pan out once the lockdown situation is eased further.”
Market participants have factored in at least a 25 bps rate cut by the MPC on August 6 while analysts are predicting a total 50-75 bps cuts over the rest of the fiscal year that runs to March 31.
The spike in the retail inflation rate above the RBI’s mandated 2%-4% target range is another reason for the central bank to take a breather, analysts say.
Annual retail inflation rose to 6.09% in June, compared to 5.84% in March and sharply above a 5.30% median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.