Chennai: Mixed views were expressed by experts on what the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would decide at its April meeting — hike the repo rate or hit the pause button.
One view is that the MPC is expected to increase the repo rate by 25 basis points (bps) next month given that the inflation continues to be sticky.
The first meeting of MPC for FY24 will be held during the first week of April where the decision on the repo rate will be taken.
“The RBI’s decision in April is likely to be influenced by the unexpectedly high Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation numbers recorded in the last two months,” said CARE Ratings in a report.
“The January and February spike in CPI inflation, combined with core inflation remaining above 6 per cent, may push the policy outcome in favour of one more rate hike. Moreover, the latest inflationary expectations data does not suggest a significant relief,” the report notes.
Furthermore, the expectation of the Federal Reserve continuing its rate hike cycle to control inflation may support the RBI’s decision to raise the repo rate in the April meeting before pressing the pause button.
“We expect RBI to hike the repo rate by 25 bps in April to 6.75 per cent. With the real rate turning positive and tight liquidity conditions, we also expect a change of stance from ‘withdrawal of accommodation’ to neutral,” CARE Ratings said.
According to Lakshmi Iyer, CEO-Investment & Strategy Kotak Investment Advisors Limited, the volatility and uncertainty in the global financial markets have increased over the past few weeks, though the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve have delivered 50 bps and 25 bps hikes respectively in March.
“In India, CPI remains above the 6 per cent threshold, including core inflation which remains sticky. Though CPI is likely to trend lower in the coming months, the probability of 25 bps rate hike in the upcoming MPC seems high. To hike or not to hike could be the most discussed agenda as the clamour for a pause seems to be only growing,” Iyer added.
Interestingly, Churchil Bhatt, Executive Vice President & Debt Fund Manager, Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company said, the MPC members are facing a catch-22 situation — a turbulent global economic landscape versus a healthy and reasonably insulated economy.
“We expect a pause in April 23 MPC meeting with no change in stance. Forward guidance by the MPC, if any, may be open ended, leaving room for deft manoeuvrability depending on evolving circumstances in the global and domestic economy,” Bhatt said.
But will the members of MPC share Bhatt’s views will be known only after their meeting.
It should also be noted, the MPC’s decision to hike the repo rate in the recent past is not unanimous with some members voting against the decision.