Will Governor Shaktikanta Das Go for Moderate Rate Hike?

RBI MPC LIVE Updates: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das will be announcing the bi-monthly monetary policy on Wednesday, December 7 at 10 am on the conclusion of the three-day of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. The Reserve Bank’s rate-setting panel started brainstorming for the next round of monetary policy on December 5. So far in FY23, the MPC has increased the repo rate by 190 bps: 40 bps in May and 50 bps each in June, August, and September. The current policy repo rate is 5.9 per cent.

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Also Read: RBI Monetary Policy Committee Meet Live: When, Where & How to Watch Shaktikanta Das Address

The Reserve Bank’s rate-setting panel is likely to go for a moderate interest rate hike of 25-35 basis points as inflation has started showing signs of easing and economic growth tapering.

India’s largest lender State Bank of India in a research report authored by Group Chief Economic Adviser Soumya Kanti Ghosh on Monday said: “We expect the RBI to hike rates in smaller magnitude in December policy attuned to emerging market central banks and the overall rate-setting tone. A 35-bps repo rate hike looks imminent. We believe at 6.25 per cent, it could be the terminal rate for now”.

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Consumer price index (CPI) based retail inflation, which the RBI mainly factors in while arriving at its monetary policy, is showing signs of moderation but still remains above the central bank’s upper tolerance level of 6 per cent since January this year.

The inflation dropped to 6.77 per cent in October from 7.41 per cent in the preceding month, mainly due to easing prices in the food basket, though it remained above Reserve Bank’s comfort level for the 10th month in a row.

The GDP growth in the second quarter of the fiscal slowed to 6.3 per cent as against a growth of 13.5 per cent in the preceding three months.

Most economists and analysts expect the rate hikes to continue but with a lesser magnitude than the 50 basis points earlier. Industry body Assocham in its letter to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das also urged to moderate interest rate hikes in order to ensure that the rising cost of borrowing does not have an adverse and disproportionate impact on nascent economic recovery.

 In its letter, Assocham said the new rate hike should not exceed the 25-35 basis points.

ICRA Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said that with the CPI inflation remaining solidly above the MPC’s 6 per cent tolerance level in October 2022, another rate hike is certain in the December 2022 policy. “However, its size is likely to be tempered to 35 bps, from the 50 bps seen in the last three reviews, given the moderation in CPI inflation in Oct 2022 and the expectations of a further dip in November 2022.”

India Ratings Principal Economist Sunil Sinha said the central bank has front-loaded monetary tightening and the chances of further rate hikes would be more data-dependent. “The frequency and magnitude of rate hikes is expected to decline. We expect a status quo or at best a 25bp rate hike in December 2022 monetary policy.”

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