India's retail inflation eases in February

14 March, 2018, 06:56 | Author: Regina Silva
  • India's retail inflation eases in February

Figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Labor Department revealed that, on a year-over-year basis, the consumer price index rose 2.2%, a bit ahead of the 2.1% increase reported in January.

Consumer food prices rose 3.26 percent in February, compared with 4.70 percent in January, as prices of pulses fell more than 17 percent from a year earlier. The headline CPI reading of 2.2% in February was basically in line with expectations, but removing the food and energy components for a core annualized inflation reading of 1.8% was the victory. Economists had expected consumer prices to rise by 0.2%.

"Solid domestic economic momentum and the impulse from oncoming fiscal stimulus will underpin a gradual build in inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent target", said Gregory Daco, chief economist at Oxford Economics in NY.

Meanwhile, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, estimates core price inflation could rise to 2.1% in March from a year earlier. While the manufacturing sector grew 8.7% in January, compared with 2.5% in the same month past year, capital goods grew 14.6% and consumer non-durables 10.5% in the month under review.

The food index was unchanged, while prices for food at home decreased 0.2%. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8% over the past year, while the energy index increased 7.7% and the food index advanced 1.4%.

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The CPI report came on the heels of data last Friday showing a deceleration in wage growth in February as well as a downward revision to January's increase in average hourly earnings. The capital goods sector continued to witness strong growth of 14.6% in January, although this was lower than the 16.44% seen in the previous month.

India's factory output grew at a robust pace for the third straight month, at 7.5% in January, while retail inflation surprisingly slowed for the second consecutive month to 4.4% in February, signalling that the economy may be set on a strong recovery path.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted February´s rate would ease to 4.8 percent from 5.1 percent in January. The RBI in its monetary policy review last month had estimated retail inflation at 5.1% for January-March 2018.

With a fall in vegetable prices and recent financial market developments, the report highlighted that a "Pandora's Box" has been opened for the RBI, awaiting its response. It expects gross value added - a key measure of growth - to increase 7.2 percent next fiscal year from 6.6 percent this year.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate, the price index has gained 4.2 per cent so far this year, compared to a gain of only 3.3 per cent at the same point last year.

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