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Inflation peaking off; RBI may cut rates by 25 bps in Aug: BofAML

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New Delhi: Inflation is peaking off and theReserve Bank of India is expected to cut rates by 25 bps inAugust if the monsoon is normal, says a report. According to global financial services major Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML), inflation risks are overdone. January inflation stood at 5.1 per cent, a shade belowDecember’s 5.2 per cent, and BofAML is tracking February inflation at 4.7 per cent with tomato/onion prices slipping. “We expect the RBI MPC to look through the jump in inflation to 5.4 per cent in April-June, as it is driven by base effects. Against this backdrop, we expect the RBI MPC to cut rates by a final 25 bps in August if the La Ninamaterialises,” BofAML said in a research note. The La Nina phenomenon gives a boost to Southwest monsoon. The report further noted that while Budget 2018 has hiked minimum support prices, the inflationary impact is likely to be muted as ruling wholesale prices are already higher than the revised MSP. “We estimate FY19 (2018-19) average inflation at 4.8 percent (adjusted for June quarter base effects), well within theRBI’s 2-6 per cent inflation target,” the report said.

The Reserve Bank kept the key policy rate unchanged at 6per cent for the third consecutive time on February 7 in view of firming inflation. In its policy review meet, RBI said it is expecting retail inflation to rise to 5.1 per cent in the last quarter of the ongoing fiscal due to rising crude oil prices and hike in salary components of government employees. The central bank has also projected inflation to be in the range of 5.1-5.6 per cent in the first half of 2018-19.