Indian government expects normal monsoon to help ease food prices

Rising water level of river Yamuna after monsoon rains in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India expects a normal monsoon to ease food inflation, and cushion its economy from a possible rise in global commodity prices due to geopolitical tensions, said a government report released on Friday.

Government steps including the sale of state food stocks on the open market were helping to stabilise food prices, said the finance ministry's monthly economic report.

India's retail inflation rate eased slightly to 4.83% in April although food prices remained elevated. Food inflation, which accounts for nearly half of the overall consumer price basket, rose 8.70% in April, compared with a 8.52% rise in the previous month.

A normal monsoon and easing of food prices should help India "firewall" against any adverse pressures that may arise from

geopolitical tensions and global commodity prices, the report said.

However, geopolitical tensions and volatility in global commodity prices, especially of petroleum products, present substantial challenges, it said.

(Reporting by Nikunj Ohri and Sarita Chaganti Singh; editing by David Evans)