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Inflation risks overdone, RBI to cut rates in April: Bank of America Merill Lynch

Analysts at Bank of America Merill Lynch said fears of inflation getting “generalised” are overdone, as only two sub-categories of fuel and light and housing have seen a price-rise above the headline 5.2%.

business Updated: Jan 25, 2018 17:08 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Mumbai
Reserve Bank of India,Inflation,Bank of America Merill Lynch
Bank of America Merill Lynch said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will cut rates in April. (REUTERS)

Inflation risks are “overdone” and the Reserve Bank of India will cut rates by 0.25% in the April review of the monetary policy, a foreign brokerage said on Thursday.

Even as the headline inflation climbed to 5.2% in December, it is within the range of 2-6%, set for the central bank as per the inflation targeting framework, analysts at Bank of America Merill Lynch said in a note.

The ‘core inflation’ excluding fuel and the house rent allowance remains at a benign 4.2%, it said, adding that it expects the headline number to cool down to 5% for January.

“We expect the RBI monetary policy committee (MPC) to look through the jump in inflation to 5.4% in April-June, that is spooking some in the markets, as it emanates from the base effects of low 2.2% April-June 2017 inflation,” it said.

“We still expect the RBI MPC to cut policy rates by a final 0.25% in April,” it added.

It can be noted that the RBI has shifted the stance to being neutral from accommodative once it started seeing risks on both sides. The MPC is scheduled to meet for a bimonthly review of the policy in February before the April review.

The brokerage said there are “fundamental reasons” which suggest that inflation is not going up, which also include the excess capacity at present which affects pricing and also the possibility of a weak La Nina weather pattern which will dampen food prices in the second half of 2018.

It said that fears of inflation getting “generalised” are also overdone, as only two sub-categories of fuel and light and housing (accounting for 22% of the basket) have seen a price-rise above the headline 5.2%.

While the fuel is due to the crude prices rally, it said the crude prices will come-off by $10 to $62 per barrel by December 2018.

The housing component is attributable to a “statistical impact” because of the increase in housing rent allowance (HRA) for Central government employees on the 7th Pay Commission recommendation.

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 17:08 IST