A majority of the bankers were expecting the RBI to be more hawkish than the last policy and change their neutral stance.
Here are the top 15 takeaways from the second of the monetary policy committee (MPC):
Excluding the impact of HRA revisions, CPI inflation is projected at 4.6 per cent in H1 and 4.7 per cent in H2.
Retail inflation, measured by the year-on-year change in the CPI, rose sharply to 4.6 per cent in April, driven mainly by a significant increase in inflation excluding food and fuel. Excluding the estimated impact of an increase in house rent allowances (HRAs) for central government employees, headline inflation was at 4.2 per cent in April, up from 3.9 per cent in March.
On the basis of an overall assessment, GDP growth for 2018-19 is retained at 7.4 per cent as in the April policy. GDP growth is projected in the range of 7.5-7.6 per cent in H1 and 7.3-7.4 per cent in H2, with risks evenly balanced.
Food inflation moderated for the fourth successive month, pulled down by vegetables due to lower than the usual seasonal increase in their prices, and pulses and sugar which continued to experience deflation. However, within the food group, inflation increased in respect of cereals, fruits, prepared meals, meat and fish.
While net foreign direct investment in 2017-18 was broadly comparable with the previous year, net foreign portfolio flows were stronger due to a sharp turnaround in debt inflows. However, foreign portfolio investors withdrew US$ 6.7 billion on a net basis from the domestic capital market in 2018-19 (up to June 4) reflecting volatility in global financial markets. India’s foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 412 billion on June 1, 2018.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2017-18 has been estimated at 6.7 per cent, up by 0.1 percentage point from the second advance estimates released on February 28.
Estimates of agriculture and allied activities have been revised upwards, supported by an all-time high production of foodgrains and horticulture during the year. On a quarterly basis, agriculture growth increased sharply in Q4 of 17-18.
Industrial growth also strengthened, reflecting the robust performance of manufacturing, which accelerated for three consecutive quarters in Q4. Capacity utilisation by manufacturing firms increased significantly in Q4 2017-18.
The output of eight core industries accelerated in April on account of a sharp expansion in coal production, which reached a 42-month peak. Cement output also posted double-digit growth for the sixth consecutive month in April. However, electricity generation slowed down.
the manufacturing PMI remained in an expansionary mode for the tenth consecutive month in May on the back of new domestic orders and exports.
Liquidity in the system remained generally in surplus during April-May 2018. During April, the Reserve Bank absorbed surplus liquidity of ₹496 billion on a daily net average basis due to increased government spending, especially in the second half of the month. Reflecting easy liquidity conditions, the weighted average call rate (WACR) softened to 5.89 per cent in April (from 5.96 per cent in March).
The Reserve Bank conducted an open market operation purchase auction on May 17, 2018 to inject liquidity of ₹100 billion into the system. The system again turned into surplus in the last week of May reflecting mainly the payment of food subsidies. Surplus liquidity absorbed under the LAF on a daily net average basis declined to ₹142 billion in May. The WACR in May at 5.88 per cent remained broadly at the April 2018 level.
India’s exports grew in April 2018 after a marginal dip in the preceding month, supported mainly by non-oil exports, particularly engineering goods and chemicals. Import growth decelerated sequentially in April 2018; a significant decline in imports of gold as well as pearl and precious stones more than offset the impact of rising crude oil prices. Nevertheless, the trade deficit expanded in March and April from its level a year ago.
Domestic economic activity has exhibited sustained revival in recent quarters and the output gap has almost closed. Investment activity, in particular, is recovering well and could receive a further boost from swift resolution of distressed sectors of the economy under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
Geo-political risks, global financial market volatility and the threat of trade protectionism pose headwinds to the domestic recovery. It is important that public finances do not crowd out private sector investment activity at this crucial juncture. Adherence to budgetary targets by the Centre and the States – which appears to be the case thus far – will also ease upside risks to the inflation outlook considerably.
First Published: Jun 6, 2018 3:12 PM IST