Economists expect more aggressive rate hikes from RBI after hawkish minutes
- RBI is likely to aggressively tighten policy in the upcoming meeting
- It is expected to raise rates by as high as 50 basis points
- Retail inflation surged to an eight-year high in April
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to aggressively tighten policy in the upcoming meeting after minutes of its off-cycle policy review earlier this month showed that rate-setters pitched for front-loading hikes amid a worsening inflation forecast.
According to economists at Nomura Holdings Inc, Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG forecast the RBI is expected to raise rates by as high as 50 basis points (bps) when it meets on June 6-8. The minutes show a “clear hawkish commitment” by the central bank to bring back inflation under its target band of 2-6%, said Citigroup Inc.
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“The minutes confirm our view that policy is behind the curve and has to significantly catch up via front-loaded rate hikes,” wrote Nomura economists Sonal Varma and Aurodeep Nandi in a note Wednesday. They also raised their forecast for a June increase to 50 basis points from 35 basis points.
Inflationary pressures, aggravated by war-induced disruptions to supply chains, led to soaring prices for commodities including food, fuel and fertilizers. Retail inflation surged to an eight-year high in April, and wholesale prices for the same month hit the highest in three decades.
There was a “high risk” that inflation would remain above 7% for the rest of the financial year 2021-22 and that may push the RBI to hike rates by 50 basis points in June and 25 basis points in August.
In RBI minutes released on Wednesday, monetary policymakers called for a reversal of the pandemic-era accommodations during the meeting. External member Jayanth Rama Varma called for more than a 100 basis points rate increase to be “carried out very soon,” while Ashima Goyal wanted rate hikes to be front-loaded.
“We see a clear focus on reaching pre-pandemic monetary conditions, which we expect to happen by the August MPC,” said Rahul Bajoria, an economist with Barclays in Mumbai.
Swaps are pricing in a 60 basis points increase in June, followed by another 50 basis points and 60 basis points in the next two meetings, said Naveen Singh, head of trading at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership Ltd.