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Consumer Inflation Eases But RBI To Stay Cautious, Say Experts

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast February's consumer price inflation to ease to 4.80 per cent from 5.07 per cent in the previous month.

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Consumer Inflation Eases But RBI To Stay Cautious, Say Experts

Food prices came down in the month of February, government data showed

Mumbai: Retail inflation eased for a second straight month in February to 4.44 per cent as food prices fell, government data showed on Monday. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast February's consumer price inflation to ease to 4.80 per cent from 5.07 per cent in the previous month.

Anjali Verma, economist, Phillipcapital India, Mumbai:

"It is good and much lower than our expectation of 5 per cent. Bond yields should react positively tomorrow."

"We maintain the view that RBI will be on hold, but I think they should turn a little soft in their tone than the minutes of the last policy."

Sumedh Deorukhkar, senior economist, BBVA, Hong Kong:

"The softer-than-expected Feb CPI print is a positive surprise amid a let-up in food inflation as well as the fading inflationary impact of GST. That said, this moderating inflation trend seems unlikely to last long in the wake of the government's promised MSP hikes, underlying recovery in final demand, and firm crude oil prices."

"One must also be wary of the impact of rising trade protectionism and higher global rates on domestic inflation through the exchange rate channel."

"With the year-end inflation risks skewed to the upside, expect RBI to adopt a preemptive approach by revising its inflation forecasts higher in June and setting the stage for a 25 bps rate hike in its August policy."

Suvodeep Rakshit, senior economist, Kotak Institutional Equities, Mumbai:

"The downward move in inflation is on the back of seasonal food price reduction. This trend will likely taper off over the next one-two months as the effect of the kharif harvest wanes. Further, adverse base effect will move inflation to its peak of around 5.5-6.0 per cent before gliding towards 4.5 per cent by March 2019."

"The RBI will remain cautious. It is important to note that compared to its stated target of 4 per cent on a durable basis, inflation is due to remain around 4.5 per cent for the major part of FY2019. While growth conditions may not warrant a hike immediately, we expect the RBI to be cautious on any upside surprises to its inflation estimates and remain on a pause."

"We are not pencilling in a rate hike cycle as our base case as of now. The RBI in 1HFY19 would want to look at how various risks such as states' HRA impact, monsoons, crude and other commodity prices, MSP increases, Fed rate hike cycle, etc. pan out and evaluate the necessity to shift gears."

"The upside risks to inflation will emanate from adverse monsoons, increase in MSPs for kharif crops, fiscal slippages at a consolidated level and adverse expenditure quality, implementation of states' HRA, global growth-led renewed pressure on crude oil and other commodity prices, etc, while downside risks could emanate from a prolonged weak domestic demand."

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Rupa Rege Nitsure, group chief economist, L&T Finance Holdings, Mumbai:

"My CPI projection again spot on at 4.4 per cent led by a sharp fall in food inflation exactly predicted by me at 3.38 per cent. This is led by a sharp correction in vegetable prices and continued disinflation in pulses. What is noteworthy is that this low reading is despite an unfavourable statistical base. This clearly shows that inflation is not a serious risk for India. IIP growth is still very skewed and facilitated by favourable statistical base."
© Thomson Reuters 2018


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