Monday, January 23, 2012

Reserve Bank of India Holds Rate at 8.50%, Cuts CRR 50bps

The Reserve Bank of India [RBI] held its repo rate at 8.50% and reverse repo rate at 7.50%, but cut the cash reserve ratio [CRR] by 50 basis points to 5.50% from 6.00%.  The RBI said: "In reducing the CRR, the Reserve Bank has attempted to address the structural pressures on liquidity in a way that is not inconsistent with the prevailing monetary stance. In the two previous guidances, it was indicated that the cycle of rate increases had peaked and further actions were likely to reverse the cycle. Based on the current inflation trajectory, including consideration of suppressed inflation, it is premature to begin reducing the policy rate."

The RBI further noted: "The reduction in the policy rate will be conditioned by signs of sustainable moderation in inflation. However, the persistence of tight liquidity conditions could disrupt credit flow and further exacerbate growth risks. In this context, the CRR is the most effective instrument for permanent liquidity injections over a sustained period of time. The reduction can also be viewed as a reinforcement of the guidance that future rate actions will be towards lowering them."

The Reserve Bank of India last increased the repo rate by 25 basis points at its October and September meetings, after hiking a surprise 50 basis points at its previous meeting to 8.00%, having increased 25 basis points in June, and 50 basis points during the May meeting.  India's key inflation measure, the wholesale price index, increased just 7.57% in December, compared to 9.11% in November, 9.36% in October, 9.72% in September, 9.78% in August, 9.22% in July, 9.44% in June, 9.06% in May, 8.66% in April, and 8.98% year on year in March.  

India reported annual GDP growth of 6.9% in the September quarter, down from 7.7% in the June quarter, and 7.8% in the March quarter this year, and 8.3% in the previous quarter.  The RBI revised its growth projections down for 2011-12 to 7.6 percent from 8.0 percent previously, due to downside risks.  The Indian Rupee (INR) has depreciated about 10% against the US dollar over the past year, while the USDINR exchange rate last traded around 49.98


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