India's annual retail inflation accelerated to a four-month high in May, driven by higher fuel prices and a depreciating rupee, strengthening views that the central bank could raise interest rates again in August.
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Though RBI in its last week's policy review marginally revised its inflation projection downward to 4.85% for April-September from 4.9% projected earlier, it revised upward its inflation forecast for October-March period to 4.7% from 4.4% estimated earlier, "with risks tilted to the upside". In rural areas, retail inflation stood at 4.72% in May, compared to 4.67% in April. The central bank however, kept its "neutral" policy stance unchanged.
Based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the inflation was at 4.58% in the preceding month. "The possibility of one more rate hike can not be ruled out this year".
This is now the seventh straight month that inflation has breached the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) comfort zone - its mid-term target of capping it at 4 per cent. Another set of data released by the government showed that the industrial output or IIP has increased to 4.9 per cent in April from 3.2 per cent previous year.
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So far in 2018, retail prices of petrol have climbed 9.2 percent and diesel by 13.7 percent in the capital, Delhi.
The rupee has depreciated 5.3 percent since January 1, pushing up the prices of imported items such as electronic goods and machinery.
"However, these effects have been partly offset by price falls in computer games and energy costs rising by less than this time previous year".
The inflation data followed news 24 hours earlier of a surprise slowing in wage growth to a rate of 2.8% in the three months to April. In 2017-18, the economy is estimated to have grown at 6.6%.
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