Tagged #RBI


Reserve Bank of India Ignores Oil Price Drop; Maintains Interest Rate


IndusView, Tuesday 2 December 2014 (London): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left its benchmark rate unchanged at 8.00% Tuesday, failing to take advantage of the drop in international crude oil prices and the resulting deflationary effect on India’s biggest import item.

The India crude basket, computed by the petroleum planning and analysis cell, was $72.51 per barrel on November 27 compared with $90.50 per barrel on October 9. The Indian basket of crude oil is based on the weighted average of Middle East sour grades (Dubai and Oman) and the North Sea Brent sweet grade of London.

Despite the lower oil price, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said he was still awaiting more proof that inflation was under control.

“Lower oil prices keeps inflation low and could have served as a cue for the RBI to reduce interest rates and foster GDP growth,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView. “It increases prospects of the Narendra Modi government meeting its fiscal deficit target for 2014-2015. A lower RBI rate would have helped ensure it also meets its GDP growth target.“

India imports more than two-thirds of its oil requirements, which constitutes 37% of total imports. A one-dollar fall in the price of oil saves the country about $648 million. Every $10 a barrel fall in prices lowers retail inflation by 0.2 of a percentage point and wholesale inflation by half a point, experts estimate. Lower oil prices, therefore, have a three-fold effect spread across the economy.

Cheaper energy moderates inflation, which has already fallen from over 10% in early 2013 to 6.5%, bringing it within the central bank’s informal target range. This should lead to lower interest rates, boosting investment.

Cheaper oil also cuts India’s budget deficit, now representing 4.5% of GDP, by reducing fuel and fertilizer subsidies: along with food subsidies, the total is $41 billion in the year ending March 2015—14% of public spending and 2.5% of GDP.

The government controls the price of diesel and compensates sellers for their losses. But, for the first time in years, sellers are making a profit. As in China, cheaper oil should reduce the pain of cutting subsidies. Since Oct. this year, India has ended diesel price subsides and raised the price of natural gas.

Gross domestic product expanded 5.3% in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, as a manufacturing slump took the bounce out of Asia’s third-largest economy. Growth in the previous quarter was at 5.7%. 
Thanks to growth in services and stronger-than-expected farming after a bad monsoon, the reading was higher than predicted by economists polled by Reuters, who on average forecast growth of 5.1%. On a year-on-year basis, trade deficit increased by 28.1 per cent during Q2 FY 15 (Jul-Sep) as compared with a decline of 24.1% in Q1 of 2014-2015.

Prime Minister Modi is keen to promote India as an investment destination. Moves are afoot to schedule Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first bilateral visit to the United Kingdom for an event on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The trip will be his first bilateral visit to Europe. U.S. President Obama is also due to visit to India as Chief Guest of its Republic Day parade on Jan. 26.


Reserve Bank of India Holds Interest Rates for Third Meeting in Inflation Fight

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IndusView, Tuesday 5 August 2013 (London): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 8%, resisting calls from the country's businessmen and policy makers to cut interest rates to help revive economic growth.

The Indian central bank kept its overnight lending rate steady at 8% for its third policy meeting in a row. The decision was in line with the expectations of most economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Only one out of 15 analysts surveyed expected a quarter-percentage point cut to 7.75%, with the rest of them predicting no change.

"It is appropriate to continue maintaining a vigilant monetary policy stance as in June, while leaving the policy rate unchanged," said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based advisory firm IndusView. “Getting inflation under control is the best way to encourage sustainable long-term growth.”

India's economy expanded 4.7% in the year ended March, the second consecutive year where the gross domestic product has risen less than 5%. India hasn't had two successive years of below-5% growth since the late 80s.

India's economy has been showing some encouraging signs recently. May industrial production picked up to 4.7% year-over-year, up from 3.4% the previous month. Business confidence increased in June, hitting a 17-month high.

The RBI has been focusing on the consumer-price inflation rate, which has fallen more than expected in recent months. The increase in consumer prices has cooled from an average of 10% in 2013 to 7.3% in June, the slowest rise since the central bank started measuring consumer price index (CPI) in January 2012.

High oil prices have a crippling effect as they push up the prices of food and other commodities because of the increased transportation costs. Vegetable prices rose 9% while fruit prices rose nearly 21% year on year in June, when monsoon was 48% below average, although rainfall improved in July, the second month of the monsoon season.

India's heavy reliance on imported oil—especially from Iraq, which accounts for about 13% of its imports — makes the country more vulnerable than most to conflicts in the Middle East.

The weather is another source of concern, with the lower-than-normal rains from the monsoon—which runs from June through September — likely to reduce the supply of grains and vegetables and push up prices. Most of the country's farmlands depend on rainwater for irrigation.

“Sentiment on domestic economic activity appears to be reviving, with data suggesting a firming up of industrial growth and exports,” said Rangar. “Economic reforms announced by the new government of Narendra Modi should create a congenial setting for a steady improvement in domestic demand and supply.”


RBI Governor Repo Rate Hike Disappoints India Inc

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IndusView, Friday 20 September 2013 (London): India’s central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan today raised the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to 7.5%, the first increase since 2011.

The move came as a surprise to most economists, who were widely expecting the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to leave the rate unchanged. The cash reserve ratio was left unchanged.

Mr. Rajan, a 50-year-old former International Monetary Fund chief economist, is determined to build the bank’s inflation-fighting credentials, with the bump in borrowing costs coming amid the weakest economic growth since 2009. Rajan acted even after the Federal Reserve’s decision two days ago to maintain U.S. monetary stimulus eased pressure on the rupee, which has tumbled since May.

“ Given that growth in the economy is at a low point, business confidence is weak and the investment cycle has come to a grinding halt, I expected the new RBI governor to initiate measures that would enthuse the market participants, boost investor sentiment and bring confidence back in the economy” said Rangar. “A repo rate cut was needed to facilitate industrial production process and to gain in the international markets by enhancing exports scenario.”

To ease liquidity, the marginal standing facility rate, at which banks borrow from the RBI, was cut to 9.5% from 10.25% and the minimum daily maintenance of the cash reserve ratio was lowered to 95%.

The RBI's decision surprised the stock markets and the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex ended 383 points lower.

India Inc expressed its disappointment, as a rate cut by the bank would have helped ameliorate sentiments as businesses are struggling under a tight liquidity crunch due to high cost of capital.

“The government needed to be more proactive and just showed that fighting inflation is its core priority,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based advisory firm IndusView. “So far, all the actions taken have been to contain a crisis and not to prevent it”.

International investors have withdrawn nearly $12 billion in shares and debt from India's markets since the beginning of June.

India's economic growth rate slipped to a decade low of 5% in 2012-2013 on account of poor performance of farm, manufacturing and mining sectors. It is projected to rise to 5.7% in the 2013 fiscal year and firm to 6.5% and 6.7% in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Policymakers have consistently struggled to come up with steps that can convince markets they can stabilize the rupee and attract funds into the country despite extraordinary measures last month by the central bank to drain liquidity and action to curb gold imports and cut India's huge oil import bill.