India Cuts Key Rate to 6%

The Reserve Bank of India lowered its benchmark interest rate by 25bps to 6.0 percent on April 4th, as widely expected. It is the second rate cut so far this year. Policymakers said that the decision is consistent with the objective of achieving the medium-term target of 4 percent (+/- 2 percent) while supporting growth. The Committee noted that the output gap remains negative and the domestic economy is facing headwinds. The reverse repo rate was also lowered by 25bps to 5.75 percent and the marginal standing facility rate and the Bank Rate to 6.25 percent.

Excerpts from the RBI Press Release:

In the sixth bi-monthly monetary policy resolution of February 2019, CPI inflation was projected at 2.8 per cent for Q4:2018-19, 3.2-3.4 per cent for H1:2019-20 and 3.9 per cent for Q3:2019-20, with risks broadly balanced around the central trajectory. Actual inflation outcomes averaged 2.3 per cent in January-February.

The inflation path during 2019-20 is likely to be shaped by several factors. First, low food inflation during January-February will have a bearing on the near-term inflation outlook. Second, the fall in the fuel group inflation witnessed at the time of the February policy has become accentuated. Third, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel in February was lower than expected, which has imparted some downward bias to headline inflation. Fourth, international crude oil prices have increased by around 10 per cent since the last policy. Fifth, inflation expectations of households as well as input and output price expectations of producers polled in the Reserve Bank’s surveys have further moderated. Taking into consideration these factors and assuming a normal monsoon in 2019, the path of CPI inflation is revised downwards to 2.4 per cent in Q4:2018-19, 2.9-3.0 per cent in H1:2019-20 and 3.5-3.8 per cent in H2:2019-20, with risks broadly balanced.

GDP growth for 2019-20 in the February policy was projected at 7.4 per cent in the range of 7.2-7.4 per cent in H1, and 7.5 per cent in Q3 – with risks evenly balanced. Since then, there are some signs of domestic investment activity weakening as reflected in a slowdown in production and imports of capital goods. The moderation of growth in the global economy might impact India’s exports. On the positive side, however, higher financial flows to the commercial sector augur well for economic activity. Private consumption, which has remained resilient, is also expected to get a fillip from public spending in rural areas and an increase in disposable incomes of households due to tax benefits. Business expectations continue to be optimistic. Taking into consideration the above factors, GDP growth for 2019-20 is projected at 7.2 per cent – in the range of 6.8-7.1 per cent in H1:2019-20 and 7.3-7.4 per cent in H2 – with risks evenly balanced.

The MPC notes that the output gap remains negative and the domestic economy is facing headwinds, especially on the global front. The need is to strengthen domestic growth impulses by spurring private investment which has remained sluggish.

India Cuts Key Rate to 6%

RBI | Stefanie Moya |
4/4/2019 8:07:16 AM