With uncertanity over implementation of GST, rising crude oil prices and the challenging 4 per cent CPI in medium term, Reserve Bank may cut repo rate for the final time by a 25 basis points in the February policy, says a report.
“We hold on to our expectation of a 25 basis points rate cut in February, but caution that this would likely bring the easing cycle to an end, given the pressures in the horizon – implementation of the GST bill, rising oil prices, implementation of government employees housing allowance, and the challenging 4 per cent CPI target for the medium term,” HSBC said in a report Friday.
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RBI has set an objective for achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by the third quarter of the financial year 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent. Retail inflaion eased to 3.41 per cent in December, which is a 25-month low as against 3.63 per cent in November.
The report said the RBI will meet its 5 per cent CPI target for March comfortably. HSBC said since demonetization, high frequency food data has been moderating.
“As such, we are not surprised to see both a y-o-y and m-o-m non-seasonally adjusted fall in December prices. Vegetables, pulses and fruits led the charge,” it said.
The November Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose to 13-month high of 5.7 per cent compared to the contraction of 1.9 per cent in October. The report said the numbers need to be interpreted with care as the IIP series tend to undergo sharp revisions as more companies report production activity and subsequent revisions could well be downward.
“Also, much of the pain following demonetization is likely to show up in upcoming months,” it said.
The HSBC report said on the back of the ongoing cash crunch (still a 40 per cent contraction in effective currency in circulation), it expects GDP to grow 5 per cent y-o-y in the October-December quarter and 6 per cent y-o-y in the January-March quarter.
“We expect growth to normalize gradually towards the 7 per cent ballpark, but remain shy of the 7.5-8 per cent range in the financial year 2017-18, due to adjustment costs that businesses and consumers face, in the process of formalization and digitization,” the report said.