Third Quarter Review of Monetary Policy 2010-11
-Announced on the 25th January 2011
I. The State of the Economy
The Global Economy
5. Global growth prospects have improved in recent weeks. The recovery in major advanced economies, which had weakened during Q2 of 2010, regained strength in Q3 of 2010. Real GDP growth in the US, which had moderated from 3.7 per cent in Q1 of 2010 to 1.7 per cent in Q2 of 2010, improved to 2.6 per cent in Q3. Corporate capital spending and retail sales in the US have improved. While uncertainty persists in the Euro area and Japan, the baseline outlook for both is improving. Growth in EMEs has remained strong, supported largely by domestic demand.
6. In advanced economies, the earlier fears of deflation have given way to early signs of inflation. In EMEs, inflation has accentuated significantly in the recent period. Rapidly rising food prices in several economies such as China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia are a major contributory factor. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), international food prices rose by 25 per cent in December 2010 in comparison with the level at the end of 2009. The increase in global food prices has been led by prices of edible oils (55 per cent), cereals (39 per cent) and sugar (19 per cent). Significantly, the FAO expects food prices to further harden during 2011, intensifying global inflationary pressures.
7. These pressures are likely to be reinforced by trends in energy and commodity prices. The crude oil (Brent) price perked from US$ 85 per barrel on November 2, 2010 to US$ 97 per barrel on January 21, 2011. The price of crude (ICE Brent) in the futures market is ruling at US$ 98 per barrel for March 2011 delivery. Many other commodities have seen similar movements. As growth prospects in the US improve, the consequent increase in global demand for energy and commodities will exert further pressure on prices. Already, the 10-year benchmark US government securities yield increased from 2.4 per cent in early October 2010 to 3.4 per cent in mid-January 2011, indicating, among other things, rising inflationary expectations.
The Domestic Economy
8. Real GDP in India increased by 8.9 per cent during the first half of 2010-11, reflecting strong domestic demand, especially private consumption and investment, and improving external demand. Although on a cumulative basis, the IIP grew by 9.5 per cent during April-November 2010, it has been volatile in the current financial year with growth rates ranging between 2.7 per cent and 16.6 per cent. Overall, robust corporate sales, large indirect tax collections, advance tax payments and leading indicators of service sector activity suggest persistence of the growth momentum.
9. On the other hand, the latest quarterly Industrial Outlook Survey conducted by the Reserve Bank during October-December 2010 indicates a marginal moderation in overall business expectations during January-March 2011 from their high level in the previous quarter. The Reserve Bank’s order book, inventories and capacity utilisation survey for July-September 2010 showed a marginal improvement in capacity utilisation in Q2 of 2010-11, while the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed some moderation in the pace of manufacturing sector expansion in December 2010.
10 . Headline inflation, based on year-on-year changes in the wholesale price index (WPI), moderated to a single digit in August 2010 and softened further to 7.5 per cent in November 2010, the lowest level attained during 2010. However, inflation reversed course to rise to 8.4 per cent in December 2010, driven primarily by food and fuel inflation.
11. Year-on-year primary food articles inflation spiked to 13.5 per cent in December from 9.4 per cent in November due to severe supply constraints in respect of some food items. In particular, vegetable prices increased by 22.9 per cent in December 2010 over the previous month’s level. Month-on-month price increases were very high for some vegetables such as brinjals (65 per cent), onions (35 per cent), garlic (26 per cent), cabbage (22 per cent), tomatoes (19 per cent) and potatoes (16 per cent).
12. Year-on-year fuel inflation, which had moderated from 14.4 per cent in May 2010 to 10.3 per cent in November 2010, rose again to 11.2 per cent in December 2010 due to a rise in non-administered domestic fuel prices, reflecting the sharp increase in international prices. In the first fortnight of January 2011, oil marketing companies further raised the prices of petroleum products (petrol and aviation turbine fuel) which will further add to fuel inflation. The year-on-year WPI non-food manufactured products (weight: 55 per cent) inflation, which moderated from 5.9 per cent in April 2010 to 5.1 per cent in September 2010, increased to 5.4 per cent in November, though it softened marginally to 5.3 per cent in December. Significantly, non-food manufactured products inflation continues to remain above its medium-term trend of 4.0 per cent. Moreover, in recent months, the underlying inflation momentum in this segment has been positive.
13. Between November and December 2010, as WPI inflation moved up from 7.5 per cent (year-on-year) to 8.4 per cent, the wholesale price index increased by 1.3 per cent. Of this increase in index, 82 per cent was contributed by primary articles and fuel groups and 18 per cent by the manufactured products group. At a disaggregated level, vegetables alone contributed as much as 40 per cent to the increase in the index in December, followed by mineral oil (13 per cent), condiment and spices (8 per cent) and minerals (7 per cent).
14. Money supply (M3) growth moderated during the year, reflecting slower deposit growth and faster currency expansion which reduced the money multiplier. Several banks raised their deposit rates after the Second Quarter Review of 2010-11 which contributed to a larger deposit mobilisation in December. Consequently, M3 growth increased to 16.5 per cent by end-December 2010, close to the indicative projection of 17 per cent for 2010-11.
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