All eyes on RBI ahead of monetary policy

RBI governor Urjit Patel. Some economists say RBI could revise upward its inflation target for the second half of the year

BoE-watchers will also keep a close eye on a new estimate by the central bank of what it considers the neutral interest rate for Britain's economy which could act as a guide to how far its future rate rises are likely to go.

In a public lecture in March, RBI governor had emphasised on the need for banking regulatory powers that are neutral to bank ownership, to provide a level playing field between public sector and private sector banks. Three of the panel's nine members voted to raise rates last month, indicating growing support for an increase. DBS says that the central bank can increase the repo rate in August.

Indian Banks Association's chairman (officiating), Shyam Srinivasan, said though there are several risk factors to growth which could tilt on either side, the RBI has not only maintained the growth projection of 7.4 per cent for this fiscal, but also projected a higher rate of 7.5 per cent for the first quarter of next year as well.

As per the RBI, the growth would be in the range of 7.5-7.6 per cent in first half of the fiscal and 7.3-7.4 per cent in October-March 2018-19 period "with risks evenly balanced".

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Bank deposits at Rs 114.8 lakh crore grew by 0.5 percent during April 1- July 18 compared with a contraction of (-) 1.5 percent growth in the corresponding period past year.

The increase means a slight increase in returns for savers, but more costs for those in debt.

The Bank confirmed in the minutes that an "ongoing tightening of monetary policy" would be needed to rein in inflation over the "more conventional" two-year horizon, if the economy grows in line with its forecasts. The marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the bank rate were also raised to 6.75 per cent.

Institute director Professor Graeme Roy said: "The interest rate rise - to the highest rate since 2009 - marks an important milestone in the UK's recovery from the financial crisis".

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Barua, however, said if there is an escalation in trade war risks and a resultant global output compression, then the RBI could be prompted to stay on a prolonged pause.

She said: "The Bank of England must tread carefully when it comes to further changes in interest rates".

The Bank of England is poised to lift interest rates from their financial crisis lows for the first time in nearly a decade. MCLR hikes, however, will not immediately impact most existing home loan borrowers as they will continue to pay their existing lending rates till the next reset date of their loan. "We don't expect another rate rise before May 2019".

Similarly, the BoE's new inflation forecasts will be watched as a sign of whether it thinks investors are being too relaxed by betting on no follow-up rate hike until late 2019 and only one more nearly at the end of its three-year forecast period. Markets are pricing a more than 90% chance of a hike, according to the latest data.

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