India's retail inflation likely marched higher in November: Reuters poll

·2-min read
Vendors wait for customers at their respective shops at a retail market in Kolkata

By Tushar Goenka

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's retail inflation likely accelerated last month towards the upper limit of the central bank's target range as fruit and vegetable prices climbed, a Reuters poll found.

The Reserve Bank of India left interest rates on hold on Wednesday, as predicted by another Reuters poll, but the central bank said price pressures may persist in the near-term.

The Dec. 6-8 poll of 39 economists forecast November consumer price inflation at 5.10%, higher than 4.48% in October. If realised, it would be within the RBI's target band of 2%-6% for a fifth consecutive month.

Forecasts ranged between 4.50% and 5.32%. The CPI data is due to be released on Dec. 13 at 1200 GMT.

"Last month's reduction in fuel taxes and a slightly favourable statistical base were offset by strong momentum in the price of perishables," said Yuvika Singhal, economist at QuantEco Research.

That was pushed further "because of untimely rains and the uptick in LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and kerosene prices", she added.

Brent crude oil, India's biggest import, was down over 16% last month. It was trading around $75 a barrel on Wednesday.

High inflation last year has kept this year's price rises compared with a year ago subdued. But that is expected to wane as prices are set to rise for mobile phone bills and clothes, putting inflation back on a rising trend.

"The upcoming impact from the hike in telecom tariffs, volatility in the price of perishable goods and any plausible supply-chain disruptions from COVID's latest variant could negate the recent respite we had in fuel and global commodity prices," said Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services.

But the RBI made no material changes to its inflation and growth estimates. It still expects CPI at 5.1% for Q3 and 5.7% for Q4 of this financial year.

A separate Reuters survey found that the rate at which the RBI borrows from banks - the reverse repo rate - was expected to climb to 4.10% by the end of next year, with the first hike of 25 basis points coming in Q1 2022. It was expected to raise its repo rate by 25bps in Q2.

Industrial output expanded 4.0% in October from a year ago, up from 3.1% in September, the latest poll also showed.

(Reporting by Tushar Goenka; Polling by Devayani Sathyan, Md Manzer Hussain and Shaloo Shrivastava; Editing by Alison Williams)

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