A recent Reuters poll of economists predicts that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will increase its primary interest rate by 25 basis points on April 6, but then keep rates unchanged for the remainder of the year while continuing to maintain its tightening stance.
The poll suggests that persistently high inflation in India, which exceeded the RBI’s upper tolerance limit of 6% by reaching 6.52% in January and remained elevated at 6.44% in February, is the primary factor behind the expected rate hike.
As per the poll, 49 out of 62 respondents predicted that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would increase its repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.75%, which would be the highest in seven years, at the conclusion of its meeting on April 3-6.
Additionally, a majority of economists surveyed believe that the RBI would maintain the same interest rate level for the remaining part of the year.
If realised, that would mark a cumulative 275 basis point increase from the Monetary Policy Committee since last May, a relatively modest rate cycle compared with some other central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve, which started earlier.
“It’s not just headline – even core inflation, which the MPC did emphasize substantially in the last two policy reviews, continues to be a point of concern for them,” said Vivek Kumar, an economist at QuantEco.
“The Fed has done what it roughly telegraphed, and given that backdrop … we see no reason why the RBI should stay back, especially when inflation is running ahead of the upper end of the comfort band.”
According to a recent survey, 20 out of 36 respondents believe that the central bank would continue to maintain its current withdrawal of accommodation stance at the upcoming April meeting.