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RBI to take hawkish stance by end-2018, hike rates early next year

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Bengaluru: The Reserve Bank of India will keep monetary policy steady at its April meeting but shift to a hawkish stance by the end of this year and raise interest rates early in 2019 as inflation pressures build, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
All 61 economists polled between March 23-28 expected the RBI to hold the repo rate at 6.00 per cent and the reverse repo rate at 5.75 per cent at its April 4-5 policy meeting.
The RBI is expected to keep rates steady for the rest of this year
After a slowdown in growth through much of last year, India is on an upswing and reclaimed top spot as the fastest growing major economy in the final quarter of 2017, outpacing China.
Inflation on the other hand has eased slightly, but still projected by the central bank to remain above its 4 per cent medium-term target in 2018.
“The recent strength of the economy has belatedly shifted discussion from whether the RBI might cut policy rates again to whether it should hike,” noted Shilan Shah, senior India economist at Capital Economics.
The RBI is expected to change its stance toward policy tightening by year-end, according to 60 per cent of 33 economists, including four respondents who thought the shift would come as early as its June meeting.
“With growth-inflation data likely to be higher after April, we believe there is a risk of more hawkish rhetoric at meetings in June and beyond, including a change in policy stance,” wrote Sonal Varma, chief India economist at Nomura.
The latest consensus is for the RBI to hike the repo rate and the reverse repo rate by 25 basis points in the first three months of 2019 and follow it up with another one in the quarter through to end-December.
Just last month, the consensus was for the central bank to hold fire until at least the second half of 2019.
“The forecast for inflation suggests that after a temporary decline, which we have already seen, inflation will move slightly higher and this will force a hike,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist for ex-Japan Asia at Credit Agricole CIB.
After hitting a low of 1.46 per cent in June 2017, consumer price inflation steadily rose to a 17-month high in December. However, February’s inflation print showed inflation at 4.4 per cent, giving the RBI a breather.
According to the central bank’s own projections, inflation is likely to average 5.1-5.6 per cent for the first half of the 2018-19 fiscal year, before hovering around 4.5 per cent for the remainder of the year.
While the median consensus of economists predicts a rate hike early next year, almost a third of respondents forecast the RBI will lift rates by the end of September.
Several of them also expect another rate hike before end-2018.
Against a backdrop of government fiscal slippage, the RBI would focus on “price stability”, higher bond yields and sticky inflation near the upper band of its target, according to Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank.
“The fact that evidence of underlying inflation is picking up…should tilt them towards one rate hike to calibrate policy,” Mizuho’s Varathan said.
“The growth story is also going to align nicely with the RBI’s position because we are coming off a soft base after the demonetization and GST impact … the policy decision becomes less of a dilemma and the clarity with which they need to act solidifies in the second half of this year.”
If the RBI does raise rates when expected, it would follow other major central banks which are already tightening policy.
The US Federal Reserve raised rates in March and is expected to follow it up with three more hikes this year, according to a separate Reuters poll.


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WPI inflation at 8-month low of 3.80 pc in Dec on softening fuel, food prices

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New Delhi: Inflation based on wholesale prices fell to a 8-month low of 3.80 per cent in December, 2018, on softening prices of fuel and some food items.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation stood at 4.64 per cent in November, 2018, and 3.58 per cent in December 2017. According to the government data released on Monday, deflation in food articles stood at 0.07 per cent in December, against 3.31 per cent in November.

Vegetables, too, saw deflation at 17.55 per cent in December, compared to 26.98 per cent in the previous month. Inflation in the ‘fuel and power’ basket in December slumped to 8.38 per cent, nearly half of 16.28 per cent in November.

 

This was on account of lowering of prices of petrol and diesel through December. Individually, in petrol and diesel inflation was 1.57 per cent and 8.61 per cent, respectively, and for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) it was 6.87 per cent during December.

Among food articles, potato prices became cheaper substantially with inflation at 48.68 per cent in December, as against 86.45 per cent in November.

Inflation in pulses stood at 2.11 per cent, while in ‘egg, meat and fish’ it was 4.55 per cent. Onion witnessed deflation of 63.83 per cent in December, compared to 47.60 per cent in November.

The 3.80 per cent inflation is the lowest in 8 months, and a lower inflation than this was last seen in April at 3.62 per cent. Data for retail or consumer price index-based inflation would be released later in the day.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mainly takes into account retail inflation data while formulating monetary policy. In its fifth monetary policy review for the fiscal, last month, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged, but held out a promise to cut them if the upside risks to inflation do not materialise.

The central bank lowered retail inflation projection to 2.7-3.2 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal, citing normal monsoon and moderate food prices.

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Air tickets, identity cards to become redundant; flyers can use facial recognition to enter airport

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New Delhi: The hassle to show air tickets and identity cards at Airport will be over as air travellers can soon enter airport with facial recognition biometric facility.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) that operates the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), has successfully conducted the trial of facial recognition technology. During the first phase of the trial, employees of GHIAL were included. The second phase of the trial is expected to be launched by the end of this month, in which GHIAL will include common air fliers. And if the second phase of the trial is successful, GHIAL will implement facial recognition technology in Hyderabad airport from March onwards.

Three phases of facial recognition technology

 

First phase: GHIAL has installed facial recognition cameras in the Hyderabad. In the first phase, the imaging of passengers will be done through these cameras which will recognise the faces of the flyers.

Second phase: There would be a centralised registration system for passengers. Each passenger’s face will be attached with his/her photo identity like passport, Aadhaar, voting id, driving licence etc. The details of passengers along with his facial mapping will be scanned and stored by GHIAL through the centralised registration system at the Airport.

Third phase: The ID proof of the passengers along with their facial mapping will be stored at the e-boarding gate of the Airport.The data centres at Airlines will also have similar information. Whenever such passengers book tickets, the data system will alert the Hyderabad Airport authorities.

The moment you book a flight ticket originating from Hyderabad airport, your details will be shared by the data centre and the information will be given to all the concerned authorities.

When you reach the Hyderabad terminal gate, face recognition technology will identify you and all your details will be shared on the screen. The security personnel at the gate will access all your information via the system.

Similarly, your details can be accessed by the security personnel at the check-in counter, security check-in. Once the formalities are done, passengers will get an online boarding pass on their mobile phone.

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Maruti all-new WagonR 2019 available for booking at Rs 11,000

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New Delhi: Country’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India on Monday said that its all-new WagonR is available for booking starting.

Customers can book the 3rd generation WagonR at authorized dealer network across the country by paying Rs 11,000. They can also book the car online.

The New WagonR is powered by the advanced K-series engine offering high fuel efficiency and an unmatched driving experience, Maruti said. The car now comes with a new 1.2 L engine option that delivers powerful and impressive performance coupled with great fuel economy. Customers will also have the choice of 1.0 L engine for the all-new WagonR.

 

Maruti Suzuki’s acclaimed two pedal technology will also be offered in the new WagonR. The Auto Gear Shift (AGS) offers. Maruti said that for the first it is going to offer the most innovative SmartPlay Studio infotainment experience in the Big New WagonR.

The car will be available in Pearl Poolside Blue, Pearl Nutmeg Brown, Magma Grey, Pearl Autumn Orange, Silky Silver and Superior White Range of variants. The Petrol: 1.0 L engine will be available in Lxi, Vxi / Vxi AGS variants while the Petrol: 1.2 L will be available in Vxi, Vxi AGS, Zxi / Zxi AGS variants.

“The new WagonR gets bigger with enhanced comfort. The car’s sturdy and masculine look with true tall boy design makes for a strong road presence. The Big New WagonR not only embodies strong looks but is also stronger inside out,” Maruti said in a release.

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