India's retail inflation eased in November after holding above 7% for two straight months, but remained beyond the upper bound of the 2-6% target, meaning the central bank is likely to leave policy rates on hold to support the economy, analysts said.
November's annual retail inflation was 6.93%, lower than the 7.1% forecast in a Reuters poll of economists and down from 7.61% in October, government data showed on Monday.
Economists said the short-term trend for retail inflation is likely to remain elevated as manufacturers and service providers may jack up prices after a pick up in consumer demand following a fall in coronavirus infections.
"We see no further scope of rate cuts and expect policy repo rate to remain unchanged at least until first half of 2021," said Garima Kapoor, economist Institutional Equities, Elara capital, Mumbai.
The retail food index rose 9.43% in November from a year ago, compared to revised 11% in the previous month, while retail prices of services rose 6.94% from year ago, the data showed.
Core inflation, excluding food and fuel costs, was estimated in the range of 5.57%-5.95% by four economists following the data release.
India does not give official core inflation data.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has slashed its main repo rate by 115 basis points since March to cushion the shock from the coronavirus crisis that has hit economic activity and led to millions of job losses.
The RBI's monetary policy committee left rates unchanged earlier this month and said they expected the economy to contract 7.5% in the current financial year through March 2021.
Massive protests by farmers and blockades of some roads connecting north Indian states to the national capital since last month have disrupted supply chains, leading to higher prices for some food items. The farmers oppose the government's move to deregulate wholesale agricultural markets.
India's annual wholesale prices-based inflation rose 1.55% in November, mainly because of an increase in prices of manufacturing items in the festival season, separate data released by the government earlier on Monday showed.