Retail inflation steady in September; industrial output at nine-month high
Photo Credit: Ankit Kumar

India’s annual consumer price inflation remained steady in September from the previous month, but hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India remain bleak as it expects higher inflation in coming months.

India’s annual consumer inflation (CPI) in September rose to 3.28 percent from a year earlier, government data showed on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the RBI left interest rates unchanged, after cutting the key rate by 25 basis points in August, while raising its retail inflation projection for October-March to a range of 4.2 to 4.6 percent, and lowered its economic growth estimates.

Analysts said the chances of a rate cut were bleak as higher sales during India’s long festival season that begins next week, coupled with higher petrol and diesel prices, could feed into broader prices.

“Aside from volatile food and fuel prices, core inflation is likely to accelerate,” said Shilan Shah, an economist at Capital Economics in Singapore.

“There is also a risk that excessive liquidity in the banking sector could seep into inflation.”

Since Aug. 1, retail petrol prices in Delhi have gone up 4.7 percent and diesel 2.6 percent despite a cut in taxes by the federal government.

Retail inflation has been steadily rising since June, when it eased to 1.46 percent - its slowest pace since India started releasing such figures in January 2012, based on combined data for rural and urban consumers.

Separately, annual industrial output grew at a nine-month high of 4.3 percent in August, compared with the forecast of 2.4 percent by economists in a Reuters poll, the data showed.

Industrial output growth was revised to 0.9 percent year-on-year in July.

Political compulsions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faces crucial state elections in his home state of Gujarat and hilly state of Himachal Pradesh in December, is under pressure to revive growth, which slipped to 5.7 percent in the April-June quarter, the slowest pace in three years.

Last week, the government cut taxes on 27 items, mostly food products, and eased rules for small and medium-sized companies, as it rushes to address growing criticism of its new tax launched in July.

New Delhi, facing risks of a widening fiscal deficit this year mainly due to lower growth in revenue receipts, wants the RBI to ease policy rates to support private investment and revive growth.

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