This is the first cut in repo rate – the rate at which the RBI lends to banks – since October 2016. MPC headed by RBI governor Urjit Patel stressed on need to reinvigorate private investments, clear infra bottlenecks and provide big thrust to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macro-economic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India decided to reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 6.25 per cent to 6.0 per cent with immediate effect. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.25 per cent.
Following are excerpts from the bi-monthly monetary policy:
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth.
The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below:
Since the June 2017 meeting of the MPC, impulses of growth have spread across the global economy albeit still lacking the strength of a self-sustaining recovery. Among the advanced economies (AEs), the US has expanded at a faster pace in Q2 after a weak Q1, supported by steadily improving labour market conditions, increasing consumer spending, upbeat consumer confidence helped by softer than expected inflation, and improving industrial production. Policy and political risks, however, continue to cloud the outlook. In the Euro area, the recovery has broadened across constituent economies on the back of falling unemployment and a pickup in private consumption; political uncertainty has receded substantially. In Japan, a modest but steady expansion has been taking hold, underpinned by strengthening exports, accelerating industrial production and wage reflation.
Among emerging market economies (EMEs), growth has regained some lost ground in China in Q2, with retail sales and industrial production rising at a steady pace. Nonetheless, tightening financial conditions on account of deleveraging financial institutions and slowdown in real estate could weigh negatively. The Russian economy has emerged out of two years of recession, aided by falling unemployment, rising retail sales and strong industrial production.
The modest firming up of global demand and stable commodity prices have supported global trade volumes, reflected in rising exports and imports in key economies. In the second half of July, crude prices have risen modestly out of bearish territory on account of inventory drawdown in the US, but the supply overhang persists. Chinese demand has fuelled a recent rally in metal prices, particularly copper. Bullion prices fell to multi-month lows on improved risk appetite but remain vulnerable to shi ifts in the geopolitical environment. Notwithstanding these developments, inflation is well below target in most AEs and is subdued across most EMEs
International financial markets have been resilient to political uncertainties and volatility has declined, except for sporadic reactions to hints of balance sheet adjustments by systemic central banks . In the currency markets, the US dollar weakened further and fell to a multi-month low in July on weak inflation and uncertainty around the policies of the US administration. The Euro, which has remained bullish, rallied further on upbeat economic data.
On the domestic front, a normal and well-distributed south-west monsoon for the second consecutive year has brightened the prospects of agricultural and allied activities and rural demand. By August 1, rainfall was 1 per cent above the long period average (LPA) and 84 per cent of the country’s geographical area received excess to normal precipitation. Kharif sowing has progressed at a pace higher than last year’s, with full-season sowing nearly complete for sugarcane, jute and soyabean. The ini tial uncertainty surrounding sowing of pulses barring tur and rice in some regions has also largely dissipated. Sowing of cotton and coarse cereals has exceeded last year’s levels but for oilseeds, it is lagging. Overall, these developments should help achieve the crop production targets for 2017-18 set by the Ministry of Agriculture at a higher level than the peak attained in the previous year. Meanwhile, procurement operations in respect of rice and wheat during the rabi marketing season have been stepped up to record levels – 36.1 million tonnes in April-June 2017 – and stocks have risen to 1.5 times the buffer norm for the quarter ending September.
Many challenges ahead for the economy
But there’s some reason for optimism too
On the positive side, natural gas recorded an uptick in production after a prolonged decline and steel output remained strong. The 78th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey (IOS) revealed a waning of optimism in Q2 about demand conditions across parameters, and especially on capacity utilisation, profit margins and employment. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) moderated sequentially to a four-month low in June and the future output index also eased marginally. I n July, the PMI declined into the contraction zone with a decrease in new orders and a deterioration in business conditions, reflecting inter alia the roll out of the GST; however, both new export orders and the future output index rose, reflecting optimism in the outlook.
On inflation and prices:
Prices of food and beverages, which went into deflation in May 2017 for the first time in the new CPI series, sank further in June as prices of pulses, vegetables, spices and eggs recorded year-on-year declines and inflation moderated across most other sub-groups. There are now visible signs, however, of the usual seasonal price spikes, even if with a delay and especially in respect of tomatoes, onions and milk.
Fuel inflation declined for the second month in succession as international prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fell and price increases moderated in the case of coke, and firewood and chips.
Administered prices of LPG and kerosene are set to rise with the calibrated reduction in subsidy.