RBI monetary policy meeting on February 7

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be held from February 5 to 7, the central bank said in a statement on Monday.

It will the first MPC meeting under RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das who took charge in December last year following the sudden exit of Urjit Patel.

With retail inflation during the October to December quarter at 2.6 percent, the MPC is likely to change its policy stance from calibrated tightening to neutral.

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But many experts said that the RBI will refrain from cutting interest rates due to fiscal challenges and rising crude oil prices.

In the December monetary policy review, the RBI had kept interest rates unchanged but had promised to cut them if the upside risks to the inflation do not materialize.

Having raised rates twice this fiscal, the central bank has retained it’s calibrated tightening policy stance in the recent past. While some believe that Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his Budget speech has set the stage for a rate cut by the RBI, others remain skeptical.

Given the narrative of a global slowdown, inflation is expected to remain below the RBI’s target of 4 percent in 2018-19. This gives it a room to change its monetary policy stance.

However, the elevated level of core components such as health, education, household, and personal goods suggests that room to cut rates is limited. At the same time, a combination of fiscal challenges and rising oil prices make for a difficult option.

Repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks. A repo rate cut allows banks to reduce interest rates for consumers on loans and lowers equal monthly installments on home loans, car loans, and personal loans.

The RBI will assess broader macro indicators and decide on interest rates. The current repo rate is 6.5 percent. The RBI’s decision on February 7 will be a key driver for stock markets in coming weeks.


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