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India’s Retail Inflation Likely Marched Higher In November, Says Poll


New Delhi: The country’s retail inflation likely accelerated in November towards the upper limit of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) target range as fruit and vegetable prices climbed, according to a Reuters poll.

On Wednesday, the RBI left interest rates on hold as predicted by another Reuters poll, but the central bank said price pressures may persist in the near-term.

The December 6-8 poll of 39 economists forecast November consumer price inflation at 5.10 per cent, higher than 4.48 per cent in October. If realised, it would be within the RBI’s target band of 2 per cent-6 per cent for a fifth consecutive month. Forecasts ranged between 4.50 per cent and 5.32 per cent. The CPI data is due to be released on December 13.

“Last month’s reduction in fuel taxes and a slightly favourable statistical base were offset by strong momentum in the price of perishables,” said Yuvika Singhal, economist at QuantEco Research.

That was pushed further “because of untimely rains and the uptick in LPG and kerosene prices,” she added.

Brent crude oil, India’s biggest import, was down over 16 per cent last month. It was trading around $75 a barrel on Wednesday.

High inflation last year has kept this year’s price rises compared with a year ago subdued. But that is expected to wane as prices are set to rise for mobile phone bills and clothes, putting inflation back on a rising trend.

“The upcoming impact from the hike in telecom tariffs, volatility in the price of perishable goods and any plausible supply-chain disruptions from Covid’s latest variant could negate the recent respite we had in fuel and global commodity prices,” said Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services. But the RBI made no material changes to its inflation and growth estimates. It still expects CPI at 5.1 per cent for Q3 and 5.7 per cent for Q4 of this financial year.

A separate survey conducted by Reuters found that the rate at which the RBI borrows from banks, the reverse repo rate, was expected to climb to 4.10 per cent by the end of next year, with the first hike of 25 basis points coming in Q1 2022. It was expected to raise its repo rate by 25bps in Q2.

Industrial output expanded 4.0 per cent in October from a year ago, up from 3.1 per cent in September, the poll also showed.


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