Retail inflation climbs in August, factory output stays sluggish

New Delhi Sep 12 A rise in food prices pushed India’s annual retail inflation higher in August official data showed on Tuesday

New Delhi Sep 12 A rise in food prices pushed India’s annual retail inflation higher in August official data showed on Tuesday

Inflation looks set to have rebounded last month as rising food and fuel prices cause the cost of living to march higher.

But rising price pressures will complicate the RBI's policy path as the latest data for April-June quarter showed economic growth cooled to a three-year low as the GDP for the quarter stood at 5.7 per cent.

"Clothing and footwear prices went up by over 2% last month, likely helped by the fall in the pound".

They showed an annual rate of 3.4% - their first increase since February - while prices paid by factories for materials and energy were up 7.4%.

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"Notably, core and non-core inflation gauges have jumped in the month, driven by higher transport, housing and possibly transient impact from price changes due to the GST roll-out (eg. health)", Radhika Rao, India Economist at DBS Bank, wrote in an emailed statement.

Looking ahead, all focus will of course be on tomorrow's BoE monetary policy meeting as markets look to the bank for any signs that it may raise interest rates in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether any other members may do likewise given today's reading. However, a lack of domestic inflation may continue to prevent the Bank of England raising rates.

Sterling built on earlier gains following the news and was up 0.7% against the dollar at $1.32.

The YoY CPI in urban areas ruled higher at 3.35 per cent, whereas in rural India it rose by 3.30 per cent. The weakness of the pound since the Brexit vote previous year is continuing to feed through into higher prices in the shops and online.

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The year-on-year increase in output prices strengthened to 3.4% from 3.1%. It grew at 5.05 percent in August a year ago. Consumer durables, too, contracted in July, by 1.3%, compared with a contraction of 2.1% in June. The trend growth in Apr-Jul was 1.8 per cent this year, DBS added.

"And if you combine this with the fact that CPI inflation has also started to rise, the economy is still not out of the woods", Mr. Srivastava added. Economists had expected the figure to rise to 2.8 per cent.

Sterling is now at $1.327 against the US Dollar, almost half a cent down from the high of $1.332 struck this morning. The BoE has shown patience with above target CPI prints, however some reduction in the dovish bias and a move towards a more neutral or even a few hawkish comments is now expected by the market.

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