In its October review meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) unanimously decided on October 06, 2023, to keep the policy repo rate steady at 6.5%, marking the fourth straight time they've held the rate.
Below are the key takeaways from the RBI's October 2023 monetary policy announcement.
Repo Rate Unchanged at 6.5%
Under the guidance of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, the MPC unanimously resolved to maintain the policy repo rate at 6.50%. Additionally, the policy stance was kept as "withdrawal of accommodation," with five of the six MPC members supporting this stance.
From May of the preceding year, there has been a rise of 250 basis points (bps) in the repo rate.
Inflation Target: 4%
Inflation remained at the forefront of RBI's agenda. The target is set firmly at 4%, with a permissible range of 2% to 6%. Governor Das stressed the importance of adhering to this target, hinting at the possibility of stricter liquidity control in the future. Hence, financial institutions should prepare for tightened liquidity in the coming months.
CPI Inflation Projections
The RBI has estimated the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for the fiscal year 2023-24 as:
No significant changes were observed in these numbers, which suggest that we might continue facing inflationary challenges for a while.
A Potential Twist: Open Market Operations (OMO)
During the monetary policy disclosure, Das mentioned the potential consideration of OMO (open market operation) sales to manage liquidity. OMO refers to the central bank's actions of either purchasing or disposing of government bonds in the open market, which subsequently impacts yields. Following this revelation, there was a noticeable jump in the benchmark 10-year government bond yield by 10 basis points, reaching 7.31%. If OMO sales are pursued, they could deter further investments, and the bond market might experience additional distress.
Banking and Gold Loan Updates
Reiterating confidence in the Indian banking sector, Das highlighted its resilience and improving asset quality. On a side note, the RBI has also enhanced the gold loan limit for Urban Cooperative Banks under the bullet payment scheme to Rs 4 lakh.
Key Risks Highlighted
Governor Das highlighted certain risks that could impact the economic outlook. These include:
1. Food and Fuel Prices: The RBI is watchful of sudden food and fuel price rises, which could influence inflation dynamics.
2. Kharif Onion Production: The area sown with pulses for kharif crops is lower than the previous year. Thus, monitoring kharif onion production is essential.
3. Demand-Supply Mismatches: Mismatches in the demand and supply of certain goods, particularly spices, may lead to elevated prices.
4. El Niño Conditions: Global factors such as El Niño could affect food and energy prices, adding uncertainty to the inflation trajectory.
India's Growth Outlook
Amidst the risks, there's a silver lining. India's growth story seems promising. Expressing strong faith in the nation's economic potential, Das retained the GDP projection for the current fiscal year of 6.5%, emphasising India's capability to navigate global challenges and cement its position as a leading global economy.
While challenges like inflation persist, RBI's commitment to a balanced and positive growth approach offers hope for a strong economic revival. This sentiment is likely to be mirrored in the equity and debt markets in the coming months. However, there's a significant chance that the RBI will maintain its current stance at least till the end of the current financial year.
The RBI's policy decision seems to have provided comfort to the domestic markets, which was evident in today's activities. The Nifty and the Sensex extended their gains from the previous session, ending the day 0.6% higher. However, the overall impact of this decision might be limited. The RBI's hawkish remarks might bring some short-term volatility in the market. In the coming week, the focus will shift to India Inc's Q2 earnings, which are expected to be a significant driver for market movements. Additionally, international indicators, specifically the US dollar's performance and US bond yields, will play a crucial role in shaping market trends.
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