RBI maintains status quo; warns volatile oil prices pose risk to inflation

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Additionally, fears over the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) turning more hawkish in its monetary policy stance due to a rise in inflationary pressure has subdued the prospects of rupee.

The country has not been immune to global spillovers from external factors, he said.

By the end of September, the rupee has depreciated in nominal effective terms by 5.6 per cent since the end of March, Patel said.

The Reserve Bank Friday lowered its retail inflation projection for the second half of the current fiscal to 3.9-4.5 per cent mainly because of an unusually benign trend in food prices.

Though the currency had regained its composure over the past few trading sessions because of the measures taken by the Union government, it came under fresh pressure on Wednesday, with crude oil providing the trigger. But the odds of the RBI following their footsteps seems to be constrained by the central bank's 4% (+/- 2%) inflation mandate, a potential slowdown in growth due to the ongoing trade war, and troubles in the financial system.

The RBI has retained GDP growth estimate at 7.4 per cent for FY19; to go up to 7.6 per cent in FY20.

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THE BSE benchmark Sensex plunged over 550 points on Wednesday to slip below the 36,000-mark on heavy selling in IT, auto and telecom stocks, after the rupee collapsed to a new life-time low amid surging crude oil prices. "Improving capacity utilisation, larger FDI inflows and increased financial resources to the corporate sector is projected to augur well for investment activity", he said.

The market did not react well to the RBI's decision.

The pause after two hikes since June puts the RBI a step behind peers in Asia, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, which have aggressively tightened policy to counter an emerging-market selloff triggered by higher U.S. rates and a stronger dollar.

Adding to the bullish mood, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that the central bank may raise interest rates above an estimated "neutral" setting as the "remarkably positive" USA economy continues to grow. "In its absence currency and asset markets could see sharper corrections".

Elaborating on the change to "calibrated tightening", the Governor said that it implied that "in this cycle, a rate cut is not the table and we are not bound to increase rates every time we meet". "The RBI is clearly of the view that they should let underlying trade competitiveness improve gradually as the trade-weighted exchange rate acts as a natural stabiliser".

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