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Inflation to fall below 8% for February: Experts

business Updated: Mar 13, 2011 11:11 IST
New Delhi

The headline inflation for February is likely to fall below 8% as the rate of price rise in the food segment has declined to a single digit figure, according to experts.

The government will release the headline inflation numbers for February on Monday.

In January, inflation was at 8.23%.

"We expect February headline inflation to soften to sub-8% levels, we see the main relief coming from sharp fall in food prices," Barclays Capital said in a research note.

The overall inflation has remained above 8% since February 2010. The government expects it to fall to 7% by March end.

Barclays said the core (non-food manufacturing) inflation would be around 5% in February.

IIFL economist Ashutosh Datar said, "We expect inflation (for February) to moderate from over 8% now, but do not foresee it falling to sub 7% in the next couple of months, given the strong underlying inflationary pressures in the economy," he said.

CRISIL chief economist D K Joshi, however, sees headline inflation coming down to 7% range in the coming months.

"Food inflation is falling, so, I think the overall inflation too should be in the range of 7% by the fiscal end."

Experts said that despite likely moderation in inflation, RBI would continue its monetary tightening measures in its March 17 mid-quarterly review.

Barclays said the elevated headline and sticky core inflation prints, amid continued weakness in industrial production, would complicate RBI's policy moves.

The Reserve Bank has hiked policy rates seven times since March 2010 to tame inflation, which has remained over its comfort level of 5% to 6%.

"At the moment, the RBI's bias appears to prioritise inflation management over growth. We expect the RBI to hike the key policy rates (repo and reverse repo) by 25 bp each," Barclays said.

Datar, too, expects the RBI to tighten rates by another 75 bps in 2011.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had last week said that though the food inflation has come down, it was still at an "unacceptable" high level.

According to latest figures, it has, however, dipped to 9.52% for the week ended February 26.

The government has taken various steps in the budget like special initiative for agriculture, supply chain management, promotion of coal chains among others, Mukherjee said.