India central bank cuts rates ahead of election

RBI Policy MPC Cuts Benchmark Rate RBI Governor Emphasises Growth

RBI Policy: MPC Cuts Repo Rate by 25 Basis Points to 6.25%

Deputy Governor Viral Acharya and another MPC member, Chetan Ghate, voted for status quo in interest rates, while Das and three others voted for a cut in interest rates.

Not surprisingly, the RBI's off-the-mark inflation projections drew criticism, with some questioning whether the 50 basis points in rate hikes announced in 2018 were necessary.

When asked about transmission and banks' reluctance to pass on the rate decreases to borrowers, Das said it is up to the individual banks to take a call on their lending, underlining that the RBI only gives a directional move.

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The Reserve Bank lowered the policy rate by 25 bps to make the most of the space offered by the softening in prices, and will deliver more on the rate front if its lower inflation estimates are achieved, governor Shaktikanta Das said on Thursday.

The central bank projected GDP growth for 2019-20 at 7.4 per cent. The central bank also announced that the limit of collateral-free agriculture loans was being raised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.6 lakh. Das also reaffirmed the RBI's commitment to ensure there is adequate liquidity available in the market saying no sector in the economy will be starved of growth funds. The repo rate cut will lead to a decrease in EMIs on Home Loans, Car Loans and Personal Loans as the banks would likely decrease the interest rates.

"Investment activity is recovering but supported mainly by public spending on infrastructure", the MPC said in a statement. "The need is to strengthen private investment activity and buttress private consumption", the MPC statement said.

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Trade tensions and associated uncertainties appear to be moderating global growth, the bank said. Taking into consideration key factors such as lower food inflation, moderation in the fuel group, recent unusual pick-up in the prices of health and education, crude oil prices outlook and moderation in inflation expectations of households, the CPI inflation is revised downwards to 2.8 per cent in fourth quarter of 2018-19 and 3.2-3.4 per cent in first half 2019-20 and 3.9 per cent in third quarter of 2019-20, with risks broadly balanced around the central trajectory.

"Headline inflation is expected to remain contained below or at its target of 4%". This could allow the RBI more elbow room to lower lending rates, eventually bringing down borrowing costs for individuals and corporate houses. "Growth in rural wages moderated in October", RBI said.

Gaurav Dua, Head of Research at Sharekhan by BNP Paribas, said the change in stance to "Neutral" and dovish commentary open doors for further rate cuts going ahead.

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