India cenbank hikes rates 25 bps as expected, hints more could come

<html xmlns=""><head><title>RPT-UPDATE 3-India cenbank hikes rates 25 bps as expected, hints more could come</title></head><body>

Repeats to advise media clients there are pictures to go with this story

By Swati Bhat and Sudipto Ganguly

MUMBAI, Feb 8 (Reuters) -The Reserve Bank of India hiked its key repo rate by a quarter percentage pointon Wednesday as expected but surprised markets by leaving the door open to more tightening, saying core inflation remained high.

The central bank said that its policy stance remains focused on the withdrawalof accommodation, with four out of six members voting in favour of that position.

Most analysts had expected a hike on Wednesday to be the final increase in the RBI's current tightening cycle, which has seen it raise rates by 250 bps since May last year.

The monetary policy committee (MPC), comprising three members from the central bank and three external members, raised the key lending rate or the repo rate INREPO=ECI to 6.50%, also in a split decision.

Four of the six members voted in favour of the move.

"The stickiness of core or underlying inflation is a matter of concern. We need to see a decisive moderation in inflation. We have to remain unwavering in our commitment to bring down inflation," RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, while announcing the committee's decision.

While the effect of earlier rate hikes are still working their way through the economy, further calibrated monetary policy action is warranted, Das added.

In a poll conducted ahead of the federal budget on Feb. 1, more than three-quarters of economists, 40 of 52, had expected the RBI to raise the repo rate by 25 bps. The remaining 12 predicted no change.

Das said that the inflation-adjusted, real interest rate remains below pre-pandemic levels and liquidity remains surplus, even though it is lower than during the pandemic.

The RBI has brought down the liquidity surplus in the banking system to below 2 trillion rupees ($24.19 billion) from around 9-10 trillion rupees in the aftermath of pandemic-related support measures.

A growing number of central banks around the world have signalled a pause or halt in their tightening in recent weeks as consumer inflation comes off the boil and growth in their economies shows signs of softening.

India's annual retail inflation rate eased to 5.72% in December from 5.88% in the previous month, falling below the RBI's upper tolerance band of 2%-6% for a second straight month, though core inflation, which excludes more volatile food and fuel prices, was still running at 6.1%.

Consumer inflation is projected to be at 6.5% in the fiscal year 2023 and 5.3% for the fiscal year 2024.

"It seems reasonable to conclude that until (some) measures of inflation present less of a threat, by falling below 6% and remaining there for a couple of months, we can't rule out further rate hikes," economists at ING said in a note.

"So we will be amending our forecasts and adding a further 25 bps, taking peak policy rates to 6.75% after this latest increase and pushing back the timing of eventual rate cuts until next year."

Capital Economics also said there is clearly a possibility of another 25 bps rate hike in April, but much will hinge on inflation readings for January and February.

Das added that the Indian economy looks resilient even though considerable uncertainties remain on global commodity prices. The RBI has projected a growth rate of 6.4% for FY24.

"The global economic outlook does not look as grim now as it did a few months ago. Growth prospects in major economies have improved, while inflation is on a descent though still remains well-above target in major economies. The situation remains fluid and uncertain," Das said.

The Indian rupee INR= was little changed to the U.S. dollar at 82.69compared with 82.67 prior to the policy announcement. It briefly rose to 82.62 after RBI maintained its withdrawal of accommodation stance.

The benchmark bond yield IN072632G=CC was at 7.3391% against 7.3124% before the policy decision and the previous close of 7.3102%.

The Nifty 50 index .NSEI was up 0.78% at 17,860.50, as of 11:39 a.m. IST, while the S&P BSE Sensex .BSESN rose 0.69% to 60,701.39.

($1 = 82.6830 Indian rupees)

India Real Interest Rates Settle At Well-Below Peak

India's monetary tightening continues

Reporting by Swati Bhat and Sudipto Ganguly; additonal reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Kim Coghill


Disclaimer: The XM Group entities provide execution-only service and access to our Online Trading Facility, permitting a person to view and/or use the content available on or via the website, is not intended to change or expand on this, nor does it change or expand on this. Such access and use are always subject to: (i) Terms and Conditions; (ii) Risk Warnings; and (iii) Full Disclaimer. Such content is therefore provided as no more than general information. Particularly, please be aware that the contents of our Online Trading Facility are neither a solicitation, nor an offer to enter any transactions on the financial markets. Trading on any financial market involves a significant level of risk to your capital.

All material published on our Online Trading Facility is intended for educational/informational purposes only, and does not contain – nor should it be considered as containing – financial, investment tax or trading advice and recommendations; or a record of our trading prices; or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instruments; or unsolicited financial promotions to you.

Any third-party content, as well as content prepared by XM, such as: opinions, news, research, analyses, prices and other information or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided on an “as-is” basis, as general market commentary, and do not constitute investment advice. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, it would be considered as marketing communication under the relevant laws and regulations. Please ensure that you have read and understood our Notification on Non-Independent Investment. Research and Risk Warning concerning the foregoing information, which can be accessed here.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. Read more or change your cookie settings.

Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Leveraged products may not be suitable for everyone. Please consider our Risk Disclosure.