Monsoon rains surplus so far, but July-August could be bad

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2015 22:57 IST

A surprisingly feisty southwest monsoon has dumped 24% surplus rainfall across India, delivering mushy weather in some parts and deadly flooding in others, while easing worries of a drought. But here’s the upshot: mid-July onwards could be bad and August nasty.

We have not beaten the monsoon-sapping El Nino weather pattern yet, but we are definitely better off with some robust showers so far.

“There will be a considerable dip in rainfall activity in the next 15 days,” a Met official said. That’s point to note. July delivers over a third of the rainy season’s total precipitation. Mid-July is when summer crops, accounting for nearly half of the country’s annual food output, grow to your knee’s length and require their second good round of watering.

To be sure, the Met has forecast the monsoon would be within 88% of the average of 89 centimeters (35 inches). That stands for a “deficient” monsoon, one notch lower than the milder “below normal” category. Monsoon is normal if it is within 94-106%.

Read:Light rains greet Delhi but other states hit hard by monsoon

The upswing in June has been phenomenal. Take for instance, the 44% higher rainfall in the week, June 18-24. This allowed farmers to sow a range of crops, who had been brooding over whether to invest in seeds, fearing poor rains. The rains have replenished 91 nationally important reservoirs. Their levels now stand at 146% more than the 10-year average and therefore a surplus.

So, are we home with a normal monsoon? Not really, if you could read the risk factors. The answer lies not in skies, but a meteorological tug-of-war in the oceans.

Forecasters are closely watching a key Indian Ocean barometer -- called the Indian Ocean Dipole or IOD -- that can sometimes protect the monsoon from being shot down by the El Nino.

The IOD is the difference in sea-surface temperature between two areas (or poles) in the Indian Ocean -- a western pole in the Arabian Sea and an eastern pole in the Andamans. In this fight between the IOD and El Nino, if IOD remains “neutral or positive”, the monsoon wins. It is currently neutral, which explains the June rains.

Can monsoon rain turn the stock market mood up? Analysts reckon the rains hold the reviving market in and investor sentiments.

The benchmark 30-share BSE Sensex has grown more than 1000 points since June 5 -- the day monsoon arrived in Kerala.

The fast-moving-consumer goods (toothpastes, shampoos and instant noodles etc.) and fertiliser sectors would be the most to benefit from a good monsoon.

Likewise, about 40% of India’s cement demand comes from rural housing. Adequate monsoon, therefore, is critical for steady growth of cement companies.

“The arrival of monsoon with a bang and a 12% above nomal precipitation at the end of last week washed off concerns of investors,” said Ravi Shenoy, AVP-Midcaps Research, Motilal Oswal Securities, a brokerage and research firm.

“Monsoons should ease inflation worries and boost finance and auto stocks,” Shenoy said.

(With inputs from Gaurav Choudhury)


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