Monday, 15 October, 2018

Editor's Take | RBI policy: Tough choices for MPC

So far this year rupee has declined 13.4% against the US dollar So far this year rupee has declined 13.4% against the US dollar
Orlando Vargas | 07 October, 2018, 19:16

The home currency opened at 73.68 and touched a high and a low of 73.59 and 73.90 a dollar, respectively.

Concerns about rising inflation, intensifying trade war and capital outflows have had an adverse impact on the Indian currency, analysts said. The banking sector, like it, has done just before the past two reviews, hiked interest rates.

Welcoming the decision of RBI to keep rates unchanged, Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg said government's assessment of inflation is in line with the MPC's assessment. The central bank said it foresees another rate hike in December, three more next year and one in 2020. He added that there is no target of band around any particular level of the exchange rate.

The Reserve Bank of India on Friday kept the repo rate and reverse repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 6.5 per cent and 6.25 per cent.

The financial markets, which had bet largely on a 25-50 basis points hike in the repo rate, reeled under selling pressure with the BSE Sensex plunging 792 points to end at a near six-month low of 34,376.99. Slumping below 74 to reach 74.23 for the first time in its history, the rupee recovered to finally settle at 73.76, 18 paisa below its previous closing of 73.58.

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The fall in the rupee's value is something has been led by a manifesto of issues.

The usual central bank response to a weak currency is aggressive policy tightening, like Indonesia and the Philippines, who have had 150 bp rate hikes recently. At the same time, prices of crude oil - India's biggest import - rose more than 10 per cent, a factor that is likely to drive headline inflation in coming months. "This is surprising and contrary to the industry's expectations, which skewed more towards an increase on the back of increasing inflation and depreciation of the rupee", said Anuj Puri, the chairman of ANAROCK Property Consultants.

The yield on the benchmark of the 10-year bond slipped by 10 basis points to settle at 8.05 percent during the trading session.

Foreign institutional investors remained net sellers, offloading equities worth Rs 3,370.14 crore Friday, provisional data showed.

According to Madhavi Arora, Economist, FX and Rates, Edelweiss Securities said: "The RBI is clearly of the view that they should let underlying trade competitiveness improve gradually as the trade-weighted exchange rate acts as a natural stabiliser".

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