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Wednesday,08-December-2021

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ECB sets ‘moderately lower pace’ for bond buying

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The European Central Bank (ECB) decided to leave its key interest rates unchanged and set a “moderately lower pace” for the Covid-19 pandemic-related bond buying.

“Based on a joint assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council judges that favourable financing conditions can be maintained with a moderately lower pace of net asset purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase program (PEPP) than in the previous two quarters,” the ECB said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this year, after its March and June meetings, the ECB decided that purchases under the PEPP in the second and third quarters would be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of the year, reports Xinhua news agency.

Thursday’s announcement came as eurozone inflation surged to three percent in August, the highest in ten years, according to a flash estimate published last week.

The ECB also left other policy measures largely unchanged.

Eurozone key interest rates will remain at record low levels, with the base interest rate, marginal lending rate and deposit rate unchanged at 0.00 per cent, 0.25 per cent and minus 0.50 per cent, respectively.

The PEPP, first rolled out in March last year to cushion the impact from the pandemic and expanded twice thereafter, has a total envelope of 1.85 trillion euros ($2 trillion) and is set to run until at least the end of March 2022.

The 3 per cent rise in eurozone headline inflation in August, together with a jump in core inflation to 1.6 per cent, had largely exceeded analysts’ expectations.

At a press conference on Thursday, ECB President Christine Lagarde reiterated that the surge in inflation is expected to be temporary.

“Summing up, the euro area economy is clearly rebounding. However, the speed of the recovery continues to depend on the course of the pandemic and progress with vaccinations. The current rise in inflation is expected to be largely temporary and underlying price pressures will build up only gradually,” Lagarde told reporters.

According to the ECB, the inflation upswing mainly reflects the strong increase in oil prices since around the middle of last year; the reversal of the temporary value-added tax (VAT) reduction in Germany; delayed summer sales in 2020; and cost pressures due to supply chain issues — all of which should ease or fall out of the year-on-year inflation calculation over the course of 2022.

If supply bottlenecks last longer and feed through into higher than anticipated wage rises, price pressures could be more persistent, Lagarde said.

The ECB’s latest projections expect annual inflation in the eurozone to be 2.2 per cent in 2021, 1.7 per cent in 2022 and 1.5 percent in 2023, all revised upwards compared with the forecasts three months ago.

Lagarde also said policymakers believe that the eurozone’s growth will be back to the 2019 pre-pandemic level at the end of this year, which is two quarters earlier than initially anticipated.

The latest ECB staff projections foresee the eurozone’s real GDP to grow 5 per cent this year, 4.6 per cent in 2022 and 2.1 per cent in 2023.

Dutch bank ABN Amro said there was a little relief in the market that Thursday’s move is a slowdown rather than a taper.

It expects the PEPP to end in March 2022.

However, policy rates are likely to remain on hold through 2024, given the ECB’s symmetric 2 per cent inflation target and subdued inflation outlook in the medium term, according to the bank.

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Reduction in taxes on fuel to ease inflationary pressure: RBI guv

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 Reduction in Central excise as well as state VAT on petrol and diesel is expected to ease domestic inflationary pressure, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday.

In a virtual address post the monetary policy meet, the RBI Governor Das said that
headline CPI inflation ticked up in October to 4.5 per cent from 4.3 per cent in September, after falling sharply between June and September.

This uptick, he said mainly reflected a spike in vegetable prices due to unseasonal rains in some parts of the country.

Besides, Das cited hardening of international energy prices that have kept domestic LPG and kerosene prices elevated for nearly three quarters, edging up fuel inflation to 14.3 per cent in October.

“The persistence of high core inflation since June 2020 is an area of policy concern in view of input cost pressures that could rapidly be transmitted to retail inflation as demand strengthens.”

“In this context, the reduction of excise duty and VAT on petrol and diesel will bring about a durable reduction in inflation by way of direct effects as well as indirect effects operating through fuel and transportation costs.”

Furthermore, he said price pressures may persist in the immediate term.

“Vegetable prices are expected to see a seasonal correction with winter arrivals in view of bright prospects for the rabi crop.”

“Supply side interventions by the Government have limited the fallout of continuing high international edible oil prices on domestic prices. Though crude oil prices have seen some correction in the recent period, a durable containment of price pressures would hinge on strong global supply responses to match the pick-up in demand as pandemic restrictions ease.”

However, Das pointed out that cost-push pressures continue to impinge on core inflation, though their pass-through may remain muted due to the slack in the economy.

“Over the rest of the year, inflation prints are likely to be somewhat higher as base effects turn adverse; however, it is expected that headline inflation will peak in Q4:2021-22 and soften thereafter.”

In addition, the RBI retained its CPI-based inflation projection at 5.3 per cent for FY22.

The CPI inflation is expected to ease to 5 per cent in Q1FY23 and stay at 5 per cent in Q2FY23.

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RBI maintains India’s FY22 GDP growth projection at 9.5%

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday maintained India’s GDP growth projection for the current financial year to 9.5 per cent on accelerated economic recovery along with pent-up demand.

Accordingly, GDP is expected to grow at 6.6 per cent in Q3, 6 per cent in Q4, 17.2 per cent in Q1FY23 and at 7.8 per cent for Q2FY23.

In a virtual address after the MPC’s bi-monthly meet, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said: “Incoming information indicates that consumption demand has been improving, with pent-up demand getting reinforced by the festive season. Rural demand is exhibiting resilience and farm employment is picking up with the robust performance of agriculture and allied activities, supported by a strong start to rabi sowing.”

“Other indicators like railway freight traffic, port cargo, GST receipts, toll collections, petroleum consumption and air passenger traffic have also picked up in October or November.”

Besides, he said that recent reductions in excise duty and state VAT on petrol and diesel should support consumption demand by increasing purchasing power.

Das cited that the government consumption has been picking up from August, providing support to aggregate demand.

Furthermore, he said the Centre’s relaxation of additional market borrowings by states equivalent to 0.5 per cent of gross state domestic product (GSDP) subject to certain capex related milestones and the decision to front-load tax devolution are likely to bolster capital outlays of the states.

He pointed out that the Centre’s focus on ‘capex’ should crowd in private investment, which has remained in a prolonged state of muted activity.

“Overall, the recovery that had been interrupted by the second wave of the pandemic is regaining traction, but it is not yet strong enough to be self-sustaining and durable. This underscores the vital importance of continued policy support.”

“Downside risks to the outlook have risen with the emergence of Omicron and renewed surges of Covid-19 infections in a number of countries.”

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RBI keeps lending rates intact, remains accommodative

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 To support a durable as well as lasting economic recovery amid concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday retained its key lending rates along with the growth-oriented accommodative stance during the pan-ultimate monetary policy review of FY22.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of India’s central bank voted to maintain the repo rate, or short-term lending rate, for commercial banks at 4 per cent.

Repo Rate (RR) is the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks or financial institutions against government securities.

The reverse repo rate was also kept unchanged at 3.35 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the ‘Bank Rate’ at 4.25 per cent.

It was widely expected that MPC would hold rates along with the accommodative stance.

In a virtual address after the MPC’s bi-monthly meet, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said that economic recovery disrupted by the second wave of the pandemic is gaining traction.

However, this recovery is still not strong enough to be self sustaining and durable, thereby, supportive policy measures such as accommodative stance are required.

Besides, RBI retained India’s FY22 GDP growth projection at 9.5 per cent.

Das pointed out that GDP is expected to grow at 6.6 per cent in Q3, 6 per cent in Q4, 17.2 per cent in Q1FY23 and at 7.8 per cent for Q2FY23.

“Overall, the recovery that had been interrupted by the second wave of the pandemic is regaining traction, but it is not yet strong enough to be self-sustaining and durable. This underscores the vital importance of continued policy support,” Das said.

“Downside risks to the outlook have risen with the emergence of Omicron and renewed surges of Covid-19 infections in a number of countries.”

Furthermore, the CPI-based inflation is projected at 5.3 per cent for FY22.

The CPI inflation is expected to ease to 5 per cent in Q1FY23 and stay at 5 per cent in Q2FY23.

“In the current situation, it is important to keep inflation aligned with the target while focusing on a robust growth recovery,” Das said.

“Simultaneously, the Reserve Bank remains cognisant of the need to ensure that financial conditions are rebalanced in a systematic, calibrated and well-telegraphed manner while preventing build-up of financial stability risks,” the RBI governor added.

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