Bankers see RBI raising key policy rates

Bankers see RBI raising key policy rates

“I think there could be a small hike in the repo and reverse repo rate of say 25 basis points,” HDFC Managing Director Renu Sud Karnad told PTI. High inflation rate may prompt RBI to tighten money supply by raising both short-term lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse repo) rate on July 27 2010, say bankers.

“There is a clear bias for policy rates to move up for the reason that inflation is still very high and inflationary expectation is to be contained. The bias is going to be upward,” Union Bank of India Chairman MV Nair said.

“At that point in time, if the funding cost goes up, then the base rate will also go up. During the year, there is a clear bias for interest rates to move up,” he added. Punjab National Bank Chairman KR Kamath said whatever decision RBI takes, the banks will respond accordingly. Kamath further said if RBI raises the cash reserve ratio, that would put pressure on cost of funds.

Action taken

Earlier this month, RBI had raised the repo and reverse repo rates by 25 bps to tame inflation. Inflation is still in double-digits, led by high food prices and stood at 10.55 per cent in June. But food inflation eased marginally to 12.47 per cent for the week ended July 10 from 12.81 per cent the previous week. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s economic panel pitched for tightening money supply as current inflation rate is more than double than the comfort level and can hurt high economic growth in the medium-term. “A bias towards monetary tightening is necessary,” it said.

PMEAC head C Rangarajan said if RBI does not take strong monetary action to contain inflation, it can opt for a series of “baby steps” after July 27 monetary review. “Evidence on the funds flow side, as well as on the output side, clearly shows a  economic recovery. In the backdrop of inflation rates that are more than twice the comfort-zone, it is important that monetary policy completes the process of exit and move towards a bias on tightening,” he said. RBS Managing Director and Head of Markets Ramit Bhasin said RBI is likely to hike its short-term lending rate by 0.5 per cent to 6 per cent and short-term borrowing rate by 1 per cent to 5 per cent through 2010.

“As we go forward, there would be higher capital inflows and the current liquidity crunch will ease. According to our estimates, RBI is likely to up repo by 0.5 per cent and reverse repo by 1 per cent by December,” Bhasin said. Kotak Mahindra MF’s Lakshmi Iyer said it is widely expected that RBI is going to hike rates by 25 bps. Crisil chief economist DK Joshi said the focus for RBI in the near term would remain curbing inflation. “We expect RBI to hike the repo and reverse repo rates by 25 bps at on July 27,” Joshi said.

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