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RBI likely to hold key interest rates on Tuesday

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The RBI building in Mumbai.
The RBI building in Mumbai. Photo credit: AFP/Sajjad Hussain
Photo credit: indianews.com
Photo credit: indianews.com

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to hold interest rates at its monetary policy review on Tuesday and is more likely to cut rates by the end of the year when there is more clarity on the monsoons.

According to the Export-Import Bank of India, the rising trend in inflation seen over the last two months and the rainfall deficits are expected to weigh over the considerations of weak economic performance.

“Consequently, policy rate cut by the RBI in its third bi-monthly policy appears bleak. The RBI is likely to maintain status quo on rates in its bi-monthly policy meet on August 4,” it said.

Consumer price-indexed (CPI), or retail, inflation rose to an eight-month high of 5.4 percent in June riding on costlier food, fuel, housing, clothing and footwear.

While the CPI-urban for June inched higher to 4.55 percent, the CPI-rural jumped to 6.07 percent from 5.52 percent in May.

At its last review in June, RBI cut the repo rate, at which it lends short-term to commercial banks, from 7.5 percent to 7.25, but left other parameters like the cash reserve ratio (CRR) and statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) unchanged at 4 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively.

It was the third repo cut this year in June, while the central bank had indicated that there may not be any further cuts in the near term.

Giving the reasons for the June policy stance, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said plans for lower food output needed to be in place, global financial markets were volatile, factory output was recovering unevenly, services sector was emitting mixed signals, fuel inflation was up, exports were down and liquidity had improved.

According to India Ratings and Research, the RBI is likely to wait and watch on rates on Tuesday.

“Ind-Ra expects the policy stance to reflect RBI’s continued intention to anchor both inflation and inflationary expectations. This has become even more important for RBI after its agreement with the government to follow a framework of inflation targeting,” it said.

Meanwhile, American research firm Moody’s Analytics, in a report this week, warned against the NDA government’s moves to tamper with the autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India in deciding on interest rates as potentially damaging for the economy.

“We believe that a government-elected panel undermines the RBI’s independence. Moving to the new model would severely dent the RBI’s competency: Credibility would be lower, politics would drive decisions, and transparency would be reduced,” the economic research company said.

The government last week released the draft Indian Financial Code, which proposes to remove the RBI governor’s veto right in the monetary policy committee.

Besides taking away the RBI governor’s authority to veto interest rate decisions, the draft also proposed that the monetary policy committee would have four representatives of the government and only three from the central bank, including the RBI “chairperson”.

“Overall, we believe that tampering with the central bank’s independence would make it difficult to anchor inflation expectations. This would weigh on India’s economic prospects, particularly financial market stability,” said the Moody’s report.

“But given the criticism of the draft bill, it is unlikely to pass parliament,” it added.

Terming the measure as a “dangerous road ahead”, it said India’s monetary policy, with Governor Raghuram Rajan at the helm, has been effective.

(IANS)

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Despite Tariff War With U.S, China’s Economic Growth is Steady

The fight between the two biggest global economies has disrupted trade in goods from soybeans medical equipment, battering exporters on both sides and rattling financial markets.

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China
An employee working on the production line of an electronics factory is seen reflected on an equipment, in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China, April 2, 2019. VOA

China’s economic growth held steady in the latest quarter despite a tariff war with Washington, in a reassuring sign that Beijing’s efforts to reverse a slowdown might be gaining traction.

The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.4% over a year earlier in the three months ending in March, the government reported Wednesday. That matched the previous quarter for the weakest growth since 2009.

“This confirms that China’s economic growth is bottoming out and this momentum is likely to continue,” said Tai Hui of JP Morgan Asset Management in a report.

Government intervention

Communist leaders stepped up government spending last year and told banks to lend more after economic activity weakened, raising the risk of politically dangerous job losses.

Beijing’s decision to ease credit controls aimed at reining in rising debt “is starting to yield results,” Hui said.

Consumer spending, factory activity and investment all accelerated in March from the month before, the National Bureau of Statistics reported.

The economy showed “growing positive factors,” a bureau statement said.

A delivery worker pushes boxes of goods at the capital city's popular shopping mall in Beijing, April 4, 2019. The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war.
A delivery worker pushes boxes of goods at the capital city’s popular shopping mall in Beijing, April 4, 2019. The U.S. and China opened a ninth round of talks Wednesday, aiming to further narrow differences in an ongoing trade war. VOA

Recovery later this year

Forecasters expect Chinese growth to bottom out and start to recover later this year. They expected a recovery last year but pushed back that time line after President Donald Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese imports over complaints about Beijing’s technology ambitions.

The fight between the two biggest global economies has disrupted trade in goods from soybeans medical equipment, battering exporters on both sides and rattling financial markets.

The two governments say settlement talks are making progress, but penalties on billions of dollars of each other’s goods are still in place.

China’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, announced an annual official growth target of 6% to 6.5% in March, down from last year’s 6.6% rate.

Li warned of “rising difficulties” in the global economy and said the ruling Communist Party plans to step up deficit spending this year to shore up growth.

Beijing’s stimulus measures have temporarily set back official plans to reduce reliance on debt and investment to support growth.

Also in March, exports rebounded from a contraction the previous month, rising 14.2% over a year earlier. Still, exports are up only 1.4% so far this year, while imports shrank 4.8% in a sign of weak Chinese domestic demand.

China
Chinese leaders warned previously any economic recovery will be “L-shaped,” meaning once the downturn bottomed out, growth would stay low. VOA

Auto sales fell 6.9% in March from a year ago, declining for a ninth month. But that was an improvement over the 17.5% contraction in January and February.

Tariffs’ effect long-lasting

Economists warn that even if Washington and Beijing announce a trade settlement in the next few weeks or months, it is unlikely to resolve all the irritants that have bedeviled relations for decades.

The two governments agreed Dec. 1 to postpone further penalties while they negotiate, but punitive charges already imposed on billions of dollars of goods stayed in place.

Even if they make peace, the experience of other countries suggests it can take four to five years for punitive duties to “dissipate fully,” said Jamie Thompson of Capital Economics in a report last week.

Chinese leaders warned previously any economic recovery will be “L-shaped,” meaning once the downturn bottomed out, growth would stay low.

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Credit growth accelerated in March, suggesting companies are stepping up investment and production.

Total profit for China’s national-level state-owned banks, oil producers, phone carriers and other companies rose 13.1% over a year ago in the first quarter, the government reported Tuesday. Revenue rose 6.3% and investment rose 9.7%. (VOA)