RBI monetary policy 2018: No rate hike, Urjit Patel opts for status quo; 7 Key takeaways
RBI monetary policy 2018: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced its fourth bi-monthly monetary policy review statement, keeping the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.5 per cent. The reverse repo rate remains at 6.25 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent.
RBI monetary policy 2018: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced its fourth bi-monthly monetary policy review statement today, keeping the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 per cent. The reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 6.25 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent. RBI governor Urjit Patel along with six-member MPC have been meeting since Wednesday to present the outcome of India’s monetary policy today. The key takeaways of the policy statement are:
1. Global trade
Growth in global trade is weakening as reflected in export orders and automobile production and sales. Crude oil prices eased during the first half of August on concerns of reduced demand from EMEs due mainly to the spillover from country-specific turmoil, and accentuated by rising supplies. However, prices rebounded on expectation of reduced supplies due to sanctions on Iran and falling US stockpiles. Base metal prices witnessed selling pressure in anticipation of weak demand from major economies.
Gold prices continued to slide lower on a strong US dollar, though they recovered somewhat on safe haven
demand from the mid-August lows. Inflation remained firm in the US, reflecting tightening labour market and elevated energy prices, while it persisted much below the central bank’s target in Japan. In the Euro area, inflation pressures have been sustained by elevated crude prices. Inflation in many key EMEs has risen on surging crude prices and currency depreciations, caused by a firm dollar and domestic factors.
2. Global financial markets
Global financial markets continued to be affected by monetary policy stances in major AEs, the spreading of contagion risks from specific EMEs, and geopolitical developments. Among AEs, equity markets in the US touched a new high, driven by technology stocks, while in Japan, they were boosted by the weak yen. In contrast, stock markets in the Euro area suffered losses on signs of a slowdown and budget concerns in some member states.
Sharp sell-offs have occurred on waning appetite of foreign portfolio investors for EME equities. The 10-year sovereign yield in the US has traded sideways, falling on dovish Fed guidance only to recover by end-September on robust economic data. Among other AEs, bond yields in the Euro area hardened in September on risk aversion following the sharp rise in financial market volatility in August. In contrast, bond yields in Japan moved in a narrow range, driven by the central bank’s yield curve management policy. In most EMEs, yields rose due to domestic factors and/or contagion effects from the stress in other EMEs.
In currency markets, the US dollar witnessed selling pressures since August on reduced investor expectations of rate hikes by the US Fed. However, it recovered in the last week of September on a rate hike by the Fed and strong economic data. The euro remained in bearish territory due to fiscal risks in some member countries and expectations of weak growth. EME currencies continued to depreciate against the US dollar.
3. Gross GDP
On the domestic front, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth surged to a nine quarter high of 8.2 per cent in Q1:2018-19, extending the sequential acceleration to four successive quarters. Of the constituents, gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) expanded by double digits for the second consecutive quarter, driven by the government’s focus on the road sector and affordable housing. Growth in private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) accelerated to 8.6 per cent, reflecting rising rural and urban spending, supported by retail credit growth.
4. Gross value added
On the supply side, growth of gross value added (GVA) at basic prices accelerated in Q1, underpinned by double-digit expansion in manufacturing activity which was robust and generalised across firm sizes. Agricultural growth also picked up, supported by robust growth in production of rice, pulses and coarse cereals alongside a sustained expansion in livestock products, forestry and fisheries. In contrast, services sector growth moderated somewhat,
largely on account of a high base. Construction activity, however, maintained strong pace for the second consecutive quarter.
The fourth advance estimates of agricultural production for 2017-18 released in August placed foodgrains production at a high of 284.8 million tonnes, 1.9 per cent higher than the third advance estimates (released in May 2018) and 3.5 per cent higher than the final estimates for the previous year. The progress of the south-west monsoon has been
marked by uneven spatial and temporal distribution, with an overall deficit of 9 per cent in precipitation.
6. Industrial growth
Industrial growth, measured by the index of industrial production (IIP), accelerated in June-July 2018 on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, underpinned mainly by high growth in consumer durables, notably two-wheelers, readymade garments, stainless steel utensils, auto components and spares, and accessories. Growth in consumer non-durables also accelerated in July. The infrastructure and construction sector continued to show solid growth. Primary goods growth accelerated, driven by mining, electricity and petroleum refinery products. Growth in capital goods production spiked in June, but decelerated sharply in July. The output of eight core industries growth remained strong in July, driven by coal,petroleum refinery products, steel and cement, but moderated in August.
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7. Retail Inflation
Retail inflation, measured by the y-o-y change in the CPI, fell from 4.9 per cent in June to 3.7 per cent in August, dragged down by a decline in food inflation. Some softening of inflation in items other than food and fuel also contributed to the decline. Adjusting for the estimated impact of an increase in house rent allowance (HRA) for central government employees, headline inflation was at 3.4 per cent.