Indian inflation still elevated, may warrant policy response-RBI bulletin

FILE PHOTO: A security guard at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) headquarters in Mumbai, India

By Swati Bhat

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Inflation in India may still require a monetary policy response going forward as it remains above the target range even though it has eased in recent months, the Reserve Bank of India said on Thursday.

"In India, supply conditions are improving, with the recent monsoon pick-up, strong momentum in manufacturing and a rebound in services," the central bank said in an article on the state of the economy, published in its monthly bulletin.

"Inflation has edged down, but its persistence at elevated levels warrants appropriate policy responses to anchor expectations going forward," RBI added.

India's consumer inflation dipped to 6.71% in July, easing for the third month in a row and helped by a slower increase in food and fuel prices but it remained above the RBI's 2% to 6% tolerance band for a seventh straight month.

"Imported inflation pressure points remain the overarching risk, followed by pending pass-through of input costs if producers regain pricing power, and wages," RBI wrote.

"Yet, some risks have turned down - commodity prices, especially of crude; supply chain pressures; revving up of monsoon activity due to the depression in the Bay of Bengal," it added.

The RBI's monetary policy committee raised the bank's key lending rate by 50 bps earlier in the month, its third increase in four months to curb rising price pressures.

RBI also highlighted that portfolio inflows had turned positive for India in August so far after a long hiatus, but it sounded cautious on the outlook of these "fickle flows".

"Tightening of global funding conditions as monetary policy is front loaded is hence expected to worsen the outlook for portfolio flows," it wrote.

The central bank said the onset of the festival season should boost consumer demand, including in rural areas as sowing activity picks pace, while the robust central government capital outlays are seen supporting investment activity.

(Reporting by Swati Bhat; Editing by Susan Fenton)