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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Inflation at 0.65 percent on April 25, 2009

(Inflation Updates - April 2009) - Annual inflation rate is expected to have risen for the third consecutive week in late April, because of a sustained increase in food, mineral and manufacturing prices, a poll showed on Wednesday.

The median forecast of 11 analysts was for 0.65 per cent rise in the wholesale price index in the 12 months to April 25, up from 0.57 per cent rise the previous week.

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"Inflation is expected to rise largely due to the general rise in food prices. Inflation falling below zero per cent has been postponed for a while now, may be until early June," said Deepali Bhargava, an economist with ING Vysya Bank said.

The index had been on a downward trend since last September, after a fall in global commodity prices, but steadied in March and has moved upward in the past two readings.

The weekly wholesale price index is more closely watched than the monthly consumer price index (CPI) because it includes more products and is published on a more frequent basis.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

RBI moves $5.7 bn to Indian government

(5-5-09 - RBI news) - The Reserve Bank of India said today it had transferred 280 billion rupees ($5.7 billion) from its intervention bonds to the government, a move that would ease the pressure on record market borrowings planned for 2009/10.

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The RBI has taken a series of steps to ensure the government's net borrowing plan of 3.09 trillion rupees in the fiscal year that began on April 1 would go through smoothly without disrupting markets and sending yields shooting up.

The government had borrowed a net 3.02 trillion rupees in 2008/09.

The 10-year bond yield briefly ticked 1 basis points lower to 6.25 percent on the announcement. It has dropped more than 100 basis points since hitting a four-month high of 7.37 percent in mid-March.

The Reserve Bank of India said the transfer, which was made on May 2, would form part of the government's borrowing plan for 2009/10. It aims to move a total of 330 billion rupees from the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) in this year.

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The outstanding amount under the MSS account was 427.73 billion rupees on May 2, the RBI said. It has also bought back federal bonds in recent weeks to ensure adequate investor appetite for new auctions.

In early March, the central bank had given 120 billion rupees from the MSS account to the government to meet a sudden surge of borrowings in the closing weeks of the 2008/09 fiscal year.


Monday, May 4, 2009

RBI offers 600 bn rupees at special repo

The Reserve Bank of India said it would conduct a special repo auction for 600 billion rupees on Monday. The reversal of the auction will be on May 18, it said in a statement.

The special repo facility was introduced on Oct. 14, 2008 on a daily basis, offering 200 billion rupees to meet liquidity needs of mutual funds.

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The central bank later increased the facility to 600 billion rupees to include liquidity needs of non-banking financial companies and housing finance companies. At its policy review on April 21, the central bank said the auction will be conducted on a weekly basis every Monday till March 2010.

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Economy poised for a rebound

The worst is over and the economy looks set for a rebound. This may sound contra-intuitive after dire predictions of a long and deep

slowdown, but economists and investment bankers interviewed by TOI see a revival as early as September, or latest by December. All of them see growth riding on the back of domestic demand rather than overseas business but caution that some sectors such as IT may take a little longer.

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The pace of rebound being projected ranges from an optimistic 8% of GDP to a cautious 6-7% in the last quarter. For the full fiscal, there's consensus on 6.5-7% except a CII forecast that pegged it at 6-6.5%. But a word of caution here will not be out of place. These figures could still go off the mark as the signs may be deceptive. This is just like when the specialists failed to see through the boom to see the bust coming.

"Green shoots of growth are showing in some sectors and we can certainly see a sustainable upward movement by the September-October busy season. Summer is lean period as activities usually slow down before picking up in September... or more in October," Ficci secretary-general Amit Mitra said.

Suresh Tendulkar, chairman of PM's Economic Advisory Council, was more optimistic and said recovery had started. "There have been some pressure on the bottomline and profit growth may not be as high as expected. But the way revenues have grown, it shows revival has started," he said.


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All of them identified infrastructure as the engine, driving demand in steel, cement and other manufactured items. "Infrastructure will spur the drawdown on inventories. That's happened in cement and is starting to happen in steel," said the investment banker.

Mahajan sees agriculture in a support role. "It will prompt rural demand but since there's a rigidity in the sector, it is not like the farm sector will carry the economy as a whole. A good monsoon and a good crop will certainly help the economic revival but that will not be the sole driver. After all, you already have good rural demand."

Mitra said steel and cement signified some turnaround in producer side. "FMCG never suffered. Activities in small housing are coming back. All these can be sustained if interest rates come down... projects become viable, start getting off the ground and (with low interest) propel consumer side interest."