First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2018-19 Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Reserve Bank of India
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation1 at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.0 per cent.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.
The decision of the MPC is consistent with the neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below.
Since the MPC’s last meeting in February 2018, global economic activity has gathered further momentum, both in advanced and emerging market economies, though financial market volatility and potential trade wars pose a threat to the outlook. Among advanced economies (AEs), the US economy, which ended 2017 on a slightly weak note, appeared to have bounced back in Q1:2018; the unemployment rate remains low with hiring around multi-month highs. In the Euro Area, economic activity remained buoyant, although consumer spending and factory activity slowed down due to the strengthening of the euro, but a consistently falling unemployment rate and elevated consumer confidence continued to underpin the strength of the economy. The Japanese economy registered eight straight quarters of growth till Q4:2017; available data for 2018 point to a slower start to the year with weak machinery orders and an easing manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) in February-March.
Economic activity remained robust in emerging market economies (EMEs) in Q1:2018. The Chinese economy started the year on a strong note; retail sales picked up pace indicating robust consumption, while industrial production also registered a strong increase in Q1:2018 on improved mining and manufacturing activity. In Brazil, economic activity is gaining momentum, driven by higher commodity prices. The Russian economy continued to recover in Q1; industrial production expanded in January-February, after two months of contraction, while exports grew at a robust pace. In South Africa, leading indicators, viz., the manufacturing PMI and business confidence, improved in Q1.
Financial markets turned volatile in February-March, triggered by uncertainty regarding the pace of normalisation of US monetary policy, and concerns surrounding global trade. Equity markets globally have shed most of the gains of the previous quarter in a heavy sell off in February-March, caused by optimistic US job reports and the US imposition of new tariffs on Chinese goods. Yields in the US traded sideways on weaker than expected inflation pressures and the anticipated rate hike by the Fed. Yields in other major AEs have fallen, while among EMEs, they have remained divergent on country-specific factors. In currency markets, the US dollar, which recovered somewhat in early March on an optimistic outlook of the economy, shed most of its gains in the latter part of the month on a less hawkish stance of the Fed and on anxieties surrounding a possible trade war. Among other major currencies, the euro continued to appreciate on an improving growth outlook for the region. Most EME currencies have retreated in the wake of the recent market volatility and the improving US economic outlook, though investors continued to discriminate on country-specific factors.