Interest on bank fixed deposits likely to go up

Interest on bank fixed deposits likely to go up

Banking experts believe sharp rise in food inflation and in the overall inflation rate in December may prompt Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to go for an interest rate hike by at least 50 basis points (bps) at its review meet on January 25.  This in turn may lead to another round of rate hike in fixed deposits, experts believe.

Contrast this with the crash in the stock markets. The BSE Sensex, the leading benchmark index for stock prices, has lost almost 1,400 points in just five trading sessions. No wonder that risk-averse investors are flocking to safe havens and parking money with banks.

Already the rates have gone up significantly. The country’s premier lender, State Bank of India (SBI), recently came up with the second round of rate hikes in less than a month. This has made the rate of interest very attractive for retail depositors. 

It has hiked interest on its 555-day special deposit scheme by 175 basis points in the last four months to 9 per cent, even better for senior citizens who earn 0.5 percentage points more in bank deposits. Such high rates in term deposits by banks were last seen 22 months ago in March 2009. Last year, around this time deposit rate by leading banks was around 7 per cent.

Following SBI’s example, Bank of India raised interest rates on select term deposits of maturities of one to three years. On deposits for a tenure of one year to less than two years, the new rate was 8.25 per cent against 7.5 per cent earlier. Others like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, IDBI Bank and State Bank of Patiala hiked their rates to protect their deposit base.

Some private sector banks, which had pre-empted the deposit rate hikes, may have to come up with another round of hikes to attract retail depositors as their rates are only marginally higher than that of SBI.

The interest rates started rising because RBI in 2010 continued with its monetary tightening in order to rein in inflation and in the process the effective policy rate has gone up by around 300 basis points.

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