HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

RBI can cut policy rates even if Fed hikes: BofA-ML

PTI  New Delhi, August 29, 2014
First Published: 17:48 IST(29/8/2014) | Last Updated: 17:51 IST(29/8/2014)
The Reserve Bank of India could cut policy rates by 75-100 basis points starting early 2015 even if the US Fed hikes rates next year, says a Bank of America Merrill-Lynch report.
According to the global financial services major, the monetary policies of the developed market and emerging markets, especially India, has turned "asynchronous" in recent years.
"We believe that the RBI can continue to cut policy rates by 75-100 bps in 2015 from January to revive growth even if the Fed tapers off," BofA-ML said in a research report.
The global brokerage firm believes that there are three main reasons why the RBI is likely to go for a rate-cut even if the Fed hikes rates next year.
Firstly, the rate differential between India and US are already very high and secondly, and secondly forex reserves are key to INR stability. Thirdly a tightening by Fed is exported to cool "imported" inflation by stabilising commodity prices.
The rate differential between US and India, that stands at 800 basis points is far higher than the average 460 basis points since January 2003.
Moreover, assuming normal rains, stable oil prices and a stable INR, the country's CPI inflation is expected to come off to 6% levels by January 2016 in line with the RBI's targets.
Soon after taking the reins of RBI in September last year, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan surprised the industry by hiking the short-term policy rate by 0.25% to keep inflation under check. The repo rate or the short term lending rate was increased to 7.5% from 7.25%.
Subsequently, RBI raised repo rate by another 0.5% to keep inflation under check. However, it has kept interest rate unchanged since April this year.
In the recent monetary policy review, RBI kept policy rate static at 8% citing upside risks to inflation in view of uncertain monsoon and its impact on food production as also volatile international oil prices.

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