Money & Banking

HSBC Bank sees little scope for further RBI rate cuts

K.R.Srivats New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2021

Expects retail inflation to tick up this quarter after coming off in December 2020

Banking major HSBC sees no scope for further policy rate cuts in the near to medium term by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) even though retail inflation has come off in December 2020, within the RBI’s targeted range of 2-6 per cent.

“This fall in retail inflation in December 2020 might be temporary and you might see inflation tick up again in this quarter which really removes the potential or scope for further rate cuts”, Frederic Neumann, Co-Head of Asian Economics Research, HSBC Bank said while discussing the bank’s outlook for the Asian economies and financial markets in 2021.

After staying stubbornly above the 2-6 per cent inflation target range for the past 8 months, India’s retail inflation based on consumer price index dipped sharply in December 2020 to 4.59 per cent from 6.93 per cent in November last year on the back of fall in vegetable prices, official data released on Tuesday showed. Food inflation fell sharply to 3.41 per cent in December 2020 from 9.5 per cent in November 2020.

It is widely expected that much of the RBI’s policy fine tuning will be focused on the liquidity space while keeping the repo rate on hold. RBI’s monetary policy committee is expected to meet next month for a customary review.

Andre de Silva, Head of Global EM Rates Research said that HSBC was much more bearish on interest rates. RBI’s recent shift away from ultra loose to loose monetary policy is a tell tale sign of higher rates, he noted. RBI had last week announced plan to conduct a 14-day reverse Repo auction of ₹ 2 lakh crore on January 15 to “restore normal liquidity management”. This plan, which comes earlier than expected, is being seen as a soft tap by the RBI on the liquidity brakes.


On economic outlook for India, Neumann said that the near term outlook is bright. “One of the reasons it is bright is that the COVID19 infection rates have seemingly come down faster than expected. Mobility numbers has quickly normalised. This has raised upside risk to growth”, he said.

HSBC has now revised upwards its GDP growth forecasts for India to 9 per cent in 2021-22 as against 7.8 per cent growth estimated earlier. Also for the current fiscal, the GDP contraction is now estimated at 8.5 per cent as compared to contraction of 11 per cent forecast earlier.

“ Our growth forecast now for 2021-22 is 9 per cent growth after 8.5 estimated contraction for the current fiscal. This looks like a strong recovery and puts India just above of the level what they (India) were before the pandemic”, he said.

Herald van der Linde, Head of Equity Strategy, Asia Pacific said that HSBC had a Sensex index target of 48,500 and added that India is considered by it as an “expensive market”.

“Performances has been very polarised. A Couple of companies have done well and dragged valuations higher. We are looking at the domestic exposed companies like auto companies, jewellery, retail and private banks we continue to like and also select telecoms”, he said.

Published on January 13, 2021

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