ICRA: Inflation concerns may keep policy rates unchanged till 2015

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on May 01, 2014

Credit rating agency ICRA expects an extended pause for policy rates, with monetary easing delayed until at least early-2015. This would, in turn, dampen a revival in the other sectors of the economy.

Reason: stickiness on food and non-food consumer price index (CPI) based inflation would make it challenging to contain CPI inflation below 8 per cent by January 2015.

Sticky interest rates would in turn limit the improvement in consumption demand.

The expectation of below-average rainfall in conjunction with the structural factors that exert stickiness on food and non-food CPI inflation would make it challenging to contain CPI inflation below 8 per cent by January 2015, the agency said.

In ICRA’s view, a broad-based investment revival is unlikely until there is a satisfactory resolution of concerns such as sector-specific issues including fuel linkages for power; high leverage levels and tight liquidity of the developers.

Further, concerns on the asset quality concerns of banks, and a stable political outcome emerging after the Parliamentary election process, also need to be resolved satisfactorily.

Overall, ICRA expects GDP growth to improve somewhat to 5.0-5.5 per cent in 2014-15, factoring in a mild improvement in manufacturing growth and a pickup in investment activity in the second half of FY15.

Based on expectations of real GDP growth in excess of 5 per cent, ICRA expects bank deposit growth during FY15 to be in the range of 12.75-13.50 per cent. Similarly, credit growth is expected to remain moderate in FY15, with retail loans being the focus area of banks.

Lending to corporates may only pick up post a broad-based revival in economic growth, once the financial health of the corporate sector improves. Overall, ICRA expects credit growth during FY15 to be in the range of 13.50-14.50 per cent.

As relatively high inflation and a tight monetary policy are likely to result in domestic rates remaining substantially firmer than those in the advanced economies, the near-to-medium term outlook for foreign portfolio inflows into India remains favourable, according to ICRA.

The magnitude of foreign institutional investor flows in the near term will be closely linked to global liquidity conditions, sentiments following the results of Parliamentary elections in India and volatility in the exchange rate and equity markets.

In spite of the firm domestic borrowing costs, ICRA expects high forex hedging cost to keep external commercial borrowings (ECBs) an attractive option only for companies with natural forex hedge.

Even the Foreign Currency Convertible Bond route to raise overseas funds is unlikely to turn attractive in the near term.

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Published on May 01, 2014
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