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Retail Inflation At 2.57% In February, Here's What Experts Say

Annual retail inflation picked up in February to 2.57 per cent, after easing to a downwardly revised 19-month low of 1.97 per cent in January

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Retail Inflation At 2.57% In February, Here's What Experts Say

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast February's annual increase in the CPI at 2.43 per cent.


Mumbai/Bengaluru: 

Annual retail inflation picked up in February to 2.57 per cent, after easing to a downwardly revised 19-month low of 1.97 per cent in January, government data showed on Tuesday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast February's annual increase in the consumer price index at 2.43 per cent.

Meanwhile, industrial output in January rose 1.7 per cent from a year earlier, lower than forecast, government data showed. A Reuters poll of economists had predicted a growth of 2 per cent for January.

COMMENTARY:

Radhika Rao, economist, DBS Bank, Singapore

"February inflation affirmed expectations that the trough in inflation is behind us, as CPI ticked up to 2.6 per cent year-on-year. Easing disinflation in food costs offset a small moderation in core inflation."

"High-frequency data of food products had already pointed to a decline in vegetables, shallower fall in pulses and modest uptick in other segments. Domestic fuel prices are down from comparable period last year, but the extent of fall has eased."

"While inflation ticks up, the extent of gains heading into FY20 is likely to be modest, reinforcing our expectations for a rate cut in April."

Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist, L&T Finance Holding, Mumbai

"Retail inflation has been hovering near 2.5 per cent, led by continued deflation in food prices and benign fuel inflation. Weak food inflation would keep rural demand subdued and lower core inflation gradually. This strengthens the case for another rate cut in April with a strong commentary on transmission."

Teresa John, economist, Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities, Mumbai

"It's a tad higher than our expectations. I had estimated it to come in at 2.43 per cent. The core inflation is broadly unchanged, we had estimated it at 5.4 per cent... so broadly it's around that level."

"I still think the RBI will go ahead and cut rates because anyway it (inflation) has been undershooting for a long time and you have seen slowdown in growth overall, be it IIP numbers or the GDP. I don't expect a change in RBI's stance but you are definitely seeing an overall bottoming-out in inflation. Food inflation is also bottoming out and you will see some reverse in food prices."

Tanvee Gupta Jain, chief India economist, UBS Securities India, Mumbai

"We expect headline CPI inflation to remain below 4 per cent yoy until October 2019 and average 3.8 per cent yoy in FY20 (below the RBI's medium-term target of 4 per cent yoy). We expect core inflation to come off 100 bps in FY20, led by a normalisation of housing and education inflation, particularly in rural India, pass-through of recent GST cuts announced in various commodities, sustained lower oil prices and the waning HRA effect."

"Softer inflation could give the MPC enough leeway to ease monetary policy, especially given its renewed focus on supporting growth. We expect the MPC to cut the policy rate a cumulative 75-100 bps in this cycle (including the recent 25 bps rate cut in February policy)."

Tushar Arora, senior economist, HDFC Bank, New Delhi

"Inflation reading for February is marginally higher than market expectations but it still remains within the target range of the RBI. This should still be counted as a comfortable reading and is likely to keep the room open for the central bank to cut the policy rate one more time this year."

"Questions on core inflation, which has been a major concern for some of the MPC members, still remain. This (elevated core inflation) is one factor, which would determine the extent of rate cuts beyond 50 bps (cumulative) in the current easing cycle."



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