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Inflationary woes: RBI retains rates, maintains accommodative stance

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

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Shaktikanta Das

Mumbai, Dec 4 : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday retained its key short-term lending rates to subdue the unabatedly high inflation rate.

However, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank maintained the growth-oriented accommodative stance, thus opening up possibilities for more future rate cuts.

Resultantly, MPC voted to maintain the repo rate — or short-term lending rate for commercial banks, at 4 per cent.

Likewise, the reverse repo rate was kept unchanged at 3.35 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the ‘Bank Rate’ at 4.25 per cent.

It was widely expected that the Reserve Bank’s MPC will hold rates as recent data showed that retail inflation has been at an elevated level during June.

As per recent data, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which gauges the retail price inflation, spiked in October to 7.61 per cent from 7.27 per cent in September.

Though not-comparable, India had recorded a retail price inflation of over 3 per cent in the corresponding period of previous year.

The RBI maintains a medium-term CPI inflation target of 4 per cent. The target is set within a band of +/- 2 per cent.

In an online address detailing the MPC’s decision, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said: “At the end of its deliberations, the MPC voted unanimously to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent.”

“It also decided to continue with the accommodative stance of monetary policy as long as necessary – at least through the current financial year and into the next year – to revive growth on a durable basis and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.”

According to Das, the MPC was of the view that inflation is likely to remain elevated, with some relief in the winter months from prices of perishables and bumper kharif arrivals.

“This constrains monetary policy at the current juncture from using the space available to act in support of growth. At the same time, the signs of recovery are far from being broad-based and are dependent on sustained policy support,”.

“A small window is available for proactive supply management strategies to break the inflation spiral being fuelled by supply chain disruptions, excessive margins and indirect taxes. Further efforts are necessary to mitigate supply-side driven inflation pressures. The MPC will monitor closely all threats to price stability to anchor broader macroeconomic and financial stability.”

Besides, Das said that India’s economy has witnessed a faster than anticipated recovery and its expected Real GDP growth rate will be at (-) 7.5 per cent in FY21.

He cited that several high frequency indicators have pointed to growth in both rural and urban areas.

“Consumers remain optimistic about the outlook and business sentiment of manufacturing firms is gradually improving. Fiscal stimulus is increasingly moving beyond being supportive of consumption and liquidity to supporting growth-generating investment,” he said.

“On the other hand, private investment is still slack and capacity utilisation has not fully recovered. While exports are on an uneven recovery, the prospects have brightened with the progress on the vaccines.”

“Taking these factors into consideration, real GDP growth is projected at (-) 7.5 per cent in 2020-21, (+) 0.1 per cent in Q3:2020- 21 and (+) 0.7 per cent in Q4:2020-21; and 21.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent in H1:2021- 22, with risks broadly balanced.”

Furthermore, Das elaborated that RBI will take additional measures to enhance liquidity support to targeted sectors having linkages to other sectors, deepen financial markets and conserve capital among banks, NBFCs through regulatory initiatives amongst other steps

Later on during a press interaction, Das, while answering to a question replied that RBI has not ‘junked’ inflation targeting via monetary policy mechanism.

He admitted that past inflation expectations have not materialised.

Citing extraordinarily situation, he said: “Our expectations on inflation, which we had over the last two months obviously that has not materialised. And we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with an extraordinary situation. A once in hundred years kind of event, and the kind of impact it has produced on the economy as well as on human lives, not just in India but across countries. It’s huge. So, we have to respond to this particular situation.”

Corroborating the assessment, RBI’s Deputy Governor Michael D. Patra said:

“You will see the trajectory of inflation completely changing. But what we have given you is the baseline with things, standing as they are today.”

“But, if you read into the guidance that Governor is giving. He sees this window as a chance for supply side management which is the prime instrument to use at this juncture, to produce a different trajectory of inflation.”

On the RBI’s internal working group’s recommendations on banking guidelines, he said that the final decision on the same has not been taken.

Reflecting back on the volatile calender year 2020, the governor explained that liquidity inducing measures have attained their desired objectives.

In addition, the Reserve Bank has decided to bring the 26 stressed sectors identified by the K.V. Kamath Committee under the ambit of on-tap targeted long-term repo operation (TLTRO).

The measure has been adopted under its regulatory and development policies which are independent of the MPC.

So far five sectors were eligible for the scheme as announced on October 21, 2020.

The policy review, the last one for the calendar year 2020, garnered positive response from the markets and India Inc.

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

It touched a new intraday record high of 45,033.19 points.

The NSE Nifty50, also touched a fresh record high of 13,250.30 points.

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Kia Motors India sells 1 lakh units since July

Additionally, Kia aims to fully utilise the capacity of 300,000 units per annum at its manufacturing unit by 2022.

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New Delhi: Automobile manufacturer Kia Motors India has sold 1 lakh units since July 2020 in the domestic wholesale market.

Accordingly, the maker of Seltos, Sonet and Carnival, has successfully dispatched 200,000 Kia vehicles to its dealerships across India within seventeen months of sales operations in the country.

The company said the top-end — above GTX variants — for the Seltos, Sonet and the Limousine variant for the Carnival, have accounted for nearly 60 per cent of total cars sold.

As per a statement, Kia sold over 106,000 UVO connected vehicles on the road summing up to a humongous 53 per cent of the brand’s total sales.

Besides, Seltos leads the sales charts for Kia Motors India with 149,428 units, followed by the Sonet with 45,195 units, which was launched in September, 2020 and the Carnival with a total sales of 5,409 units.

“In just over a year of sales operations, Kia has emerged as India’s youngest automobile disruptor and one of the best-selling automobile brands in the country,” said Kookhyun Shim, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kia Motors India.

The rapid adoption of Kia cars reiterates the evolving customer preference towards a technology-led exceptional driving experience, coupled with great connectivity. Kia’s focus has also been on offering products that are designed to fulfill consumer demands across both urban and rural areas.

Currently, Kia’s manufacturing plant in Anantapur is running on two-shift operations and given the increasing demand for Kia cars, the brand is evaluating operating in three shifts to meet them.

Additionally, Kia aims to fully utilise the capacity of 300,000 units per annum at its manufacturing unit by 2022.

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Petrol, diesel prices remain unchanged at record high levels

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Retail fuel prices were unchanged on Sunday across the four metros. On Saturday, petrol and diesel touched fresh all-time high levels.

In the national capital, petrol was priced at Rs 85.70 per litre. In Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, petrol was sold at Rs 92.28, Rs 88.29 and Rs 87.11 per litre, respectively.

Although the pump prices of fuels were unchanged on Sunday, they have been elevated for long and have been touching new highs of late.

Global oil prices are above $55 per barrel currently. Crude prices have remained firm for the last couple of weeks in the wake of unilateral production cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and a pick up in the consumption in all major economies globally.

The last time the retail price of auto fuels were closer to current levels was on October 4, 2018 when crude prices had shot up to $80 a barrel.The current price rise is largely on account of steep increase in central taxes of petrol and diesel and firm crude prices.

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Fuel dearer again: Petrol prices up by 22-25 p/l, diesel by 24-26

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 Petrol and diesel prices rose sharply again on Saturday reaching new all-time highs as oil marketing companies (OMCs) decided to break the pause in revision of auto fuel prices to bridge the widening under recovery.

Accordingly, the pump price of petrol increased between 22-25 paisa per litre across all major metros on the day while diesel prices increased in the range of 24-26 paisa per litre.

With this, petrol is now priced at Rs 85.70/litre in Delhi as against Rs 85.45 a litre previously. Similarly, in Mumbai petrol prices increased to Rs 92.28 a litre, a 24 paisa increase from Friday’s price of Rs 92.04 a litre. In Chennai and Kolkata, petrol is now priced at Rs 88.29 and 87.11 a litre respectively, an increase of 22 and 24 paisa per litre from the previous day’s.

Diesel on the other hand faced sharper increase, rising by 26 paisa a litre in Mumbai from Friday’s level of Rs 82.40 a litre to Saturday’s retail price of Rs 82.66 a litre. In Delhi, diesel rose 25 paisa per litre to Rs 75.88 a litre; in Chennai by 24 paisa per litre to Rs 81.14 a litre and in Kolkata by 25 paisa per litre to Rs 79.48 a litre.

The increase in retail price of auto fuel came on a day when global crude prices showed some signs of softening declining by less than 1 per cent to close to $55 a barrel. Crude price have remained firm for last couple of weeks in the wake of unilateral production cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and a pick up in consumption in all major economies globally.

The increase petrol and diesel prices is fourth such revision this week. The auto fuels had risen sharply by 25 paisa per litre each on Monday and Tuesday before OMCs decided to give relief to consumers from frequent price rise for last two days.

With Saturday’s revision, the pump price of petrol and diesel has now increased by Rs 1.99 and Rs 2.01 per litre, respectively in January so far with OMCs deciding to break an earlier longer period of pause increasing the retail prices first time this year on January 6. The price had been raised on six different days since then.

The last few increases in pump prices in petrol and diesel has taken its price to record levels across the country in all major metro cities and other towns. The last time the retail price of auto fuels were closer to current levels was on October 4, 2018 when crude prices had shot up to $80 a barrel.

The current price rise is largely on account of steep increase in central taxes of petrol and diesel and firm crude prices.

Petrol price was very close to breaching the all-time high level of Rs 84 a litre (reached on October 4, 2018) when it touched Rs 83.71 a litre on December 7, 2020. But the march had been halted ever since then with no price revision by the OMCs in the month. The price rise started again only on January 6.

Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.

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