A man cuts carpet for sale with scissors in a store in Srinagar, India. (Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)  

RBI May Keep Key Rates On Hold In FY19 As Inflation Shows Rising Trend

Consumer price index-based inflation is expected to rise over the next few months and average close to 4.7 percent in financial year 2018-19, driving Reserve Bank to keep key policy rates on hold in the coming financial year, says a report.

According to Swiss brokerage firm UBS, the headline CPI inflation may average close to 4.7 percent in 2018-19, as against 3.6 percent estimated in 2017-18.

“In our base case, we still expect the Monetary Policy Committee to keep rates on hold in 2018-19,” the report, authored by Tanvee Gupta Jain, economist at UBS Securities India, said.

Jain however noted that there might be a pre-emptive 50 basis points hike over the next 12 months to ensure macro stability.

As per the report, the key risks to the base case CPI inflation forecast include higher minimum support prices, global crude oil prices strengthening further, and populist spending in the run-up to 2019 general election.

If these risks materialise, “we do not rule out a pre-emptive 50 basis points hike over the next 12 months to ensure macro stability risks are contained,” Jain added.

As per Central Statistics Office data, retail inflation measured in term of Consumer Price Index fell to a four-month low of 4.44 percent in February, on cheaper food articles and lower cost for fuel.

Retail inflation was 5.07 percent in January. In February 2017, however, it was 3.65 percent.

Following the easing of retail inflation in February, there is industry clamour for a rate cut by RBI next month to maintain growth momentum.