Thursday, April 30, 2009

>Monthly Economy Review (SHAREKHAN)

Economy: All eyes on RBI monetary policy review

■ The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will announce its annual policy review on April 21, 2009. The policy review is staged against the backdrop of near-zero inflation (in terms of the Wholesale Price Index [WPI]) but near double-digit increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and slowing economic growth. Besides, the credit growth has witnessed a sharp deceleration while the banking system is awash with liquidity. In view of this, we expect the RBI to announce a token cut of 25 basis points each in the repo and reverse repo rates in keeping with its stress on a low interest rate regime. The central bank is expected to keep the cash reserve ratio (CRR) and the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) unchanged. However, we feel the business growth target for the banking system and the outlook for the economy to be given by the RBI for the current fiscal will remain a key monitorbale.

■ India’s trade deficit stood at USD4.91 billion in February 2009 compared with USD6.07 billion in the previous month. The trade deficit for February 2009 declined (for the second consecutive month in FY2009) by 26.9% year on year (yoy) and by 19.2% on a month-on-month (m-om) basis. With this, the year-till-date (YTD) trade deficit has widened to USD104.98 billion from USD74.89 billion in the comparable period of FY2008.

■ In February 2009, industrial production growth once again entered the negative zone as it declined by 1.2% yoy. The fall in the industrial output was led by a y-o-y decline of 1.4% and 1.6% in the output of the manufacturing and mining segments respectively. On a

YTD basis, the IIP growth for the period April 2008- February 2009 stood at 2.8% and was significantly weaker compared with the 8.8% growth achieved during the comparable period of the previous year. Importantly, the Index for Industrial Production (IIP) figure for January 2009 has been revised upwards to indicate an increase of 0.4% yoy against a drop of 0.5% (provisional) earlier. While there has been some improvement in automobile sales, cement dispatches and steel production during March 2009 (indicating better industrial activity), the high base effect is likely to play a spoilsport.

■ Inflation continued its southward journey and stood at 0.18% for the week ended April 04, 2009 after touching a record high of 12.91% in August 2008. However, on a week-on-week (w-o-w) basis, the inflation rate inchedup by 0.4% on the back of higher food and fuel prices.
The inflation rate is at near zero levels and we believe it is likely to enter the negative territory in the coming few weeks as the high base effect comes into play. Furthermore, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) expects the monsoon rainfall to be near normal to normal this year (96% of the long-period average). We believe a near normal to normal monsoon would help in bringing down the food inflation, which is currently at elevated

To see full report: ECONOMY REVIEW