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Retail inflation likely rose to 5.4 per cent in December, shows poll

Meanwhile, wholesale price inflation, which was flat in November, is expected to have picked up to 0.6 per cent in December. The WPI data is set to be released on Jan 14.

Siddharth Iyer | January 12, 2015 | Updated 09:57 IST
Retail inflation likely rose to 5.4% in Dec
(Photo: Reuters)

The country's retail inflation is likely to rise sharply in December, fueled by a rise in food prices, after the record low struck in November, according to a Reuters poll, weighing against chances of an early interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India.

The median forecast for the consumer price index (CPI) showed retail inflation accelerating to 5.4 per cent in December from 4.4 per cent in November.

The CPI and industrial output data are due to be released on Monday.

More optimistically for the domestic economy, which is struggling to recover from its weakest growth levels in a quarter century, the survey of 25 analysts showed industrial output bounced back to growth in November after factories had their worst month in three years in October.

Wholesale price (or WPI-based) inflation, which was flat in November, is expected to have picked up to 0.6 per cent in December. The WPI data is set to be released on January 14.

Inflation has rapidly cooled in the country following a slump in global crude oil prices, softer food costs and favourable base effects from previous reporting periods.

"With markets pushing for the central bank to lower rates, the release (of CPI) is likely to temper expectations of an imminent start in the rate cutting cycle as fading base effects lift inflation," said Radhika Rao, economist at DBS.

The RBI has targeted 6 per cent inflation by January 2016 and indicated that if the target is met it would shift to a 4 per cent goal over the longer term.

The central bank will hold its next monetary policy review in early February, while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the country's budget for 2015-16 later that month.

And though inflation trends are crucial to any decision to lower rates, the central bank would also want to take into account whether the Finance Minister resists temptation to row back on targets to reduce the fiscal deficit.

Industrial output enjoyed a turnaround without the aid of a rate cut, with the poll forecasting growth of 2.2 per cent in November on a year-on-year basis, but analysts said output growth was still weak, and factories have plenty of spare capacity.

Data released last week showed output in eight core industries, which account for over a third of overall factory output, increased to a five-month high in November driven by higher production of cement and refinery products.

Despite this, overall factory growth is stuttering, and according to Shilan Shah, senior economist at Capital Economics, one to two per cent growth is 'still a pretty poor performance'.

"The industry remains really weak and it seems unlikely that it is going to stage a big recovery unless there are wide ranging reforms", Shah said.


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