Food Prices to Moderate Downward Inflation Trajectory

E-mini S&P 500 Index

Tuesday, the U.S. Labor Department said its U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% in February, after increasing 0.5% in January.

Consumer prices south of the border rose 0.2% in February, in line with expectations and likely alleviating concerns that inflation is about to accelerate, according to the Labor Department. For core CPI, we expect some reversal of the strength in January and forecast an increase of 0.1% m/m and 1.7% y/y. We have also noted price increases across some major food items during our food survey in the month.

However, economists at the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) said that the "best is yet to come" and the RBI's inflation targets will be undershot by up to 0.50 percentage points.

Separate data showed industrial production rose 7.5 percent in January, handily beating estimates of a 6.4 percent rise and a growth of 7.1 percent in December. Besides, industry bodies yet again nudged RBI to lower interest rate as retail inflation fell to a 4-month low.

Aided by lower rate of food and fuel inflation, retail inflation for February slipped to a four-month low of 4.44 per cent from 5.07 per cent a month ago.

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Capital goods output in the month under consideration increased sharply by 14.6 per cent, as against a fall of 0.6 per cent in January past year.

Analysts expect food inflation to rise because of the seasonal upturn in vegetable prices in summer, an increase in minimum support price of summer crops that will reflect with a lag, and an upswing in global wheat prices. Over the past 12 months, food prices are up 1.4%.

Terming it as a "challenging period" for the central rate setting panel, Japanese brokerage Nomura said the rising MSPs are a risk and once inflation starts rising from the second quarter, the apex bank would turn more hawkish. Also, the cumulative growth for the period April - January 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year was 4.1 percent. That lowered the year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings to 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent in January. The rise in prices was lower than the prior month, when the CPI rose 0.5 percent. Food away from home grew 0.2%. Moreover, the manufacturing which has a weight of 77.63 per cent in the IIP is showing the sustenance of the growth momentum.

Slovakia's 10-year bond yield rose as much as five basis points and the cost of insuring exposure to its debt hit the highest in nearly three months as the country's government inched towards collapse.

A survey of small businesses published on Tuesday showed the share of owners reporting higher selling prices in February hit its highest level since July 2014.

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