Indian stocks in green ahead of RBI monetary policy outcome

NEW DELHI: Indian stock indices extended their gains, though marginally, on Wednesday as investors at large are eyeing the outcome of the three-day Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee meeting — the first in 2023-24 which started Monday.

At 9.23 am, Sensex and Nifty were in the range of 0.3-04 per cent. On Tuesday, the markets were shut on account of Mahavir Jayanti. Again on Friday, too, the markets will be closed for Good Friday. The RBI will announce the outcome of the ongoing policy meeting on Thursday morning. At the latest Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the RBI in early February, it decided to raise the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 per cent to manage inflation.

So far, RBI has raised the repo rate, the rate at which it lends to banks, by 250 basis points cumulatively since May 2022. Raising interest rates is a monetary policy instrument that typically helps suppress demand in the economy, thereby helping the inflation rate decline.

Notably, retail inflation in India fell marginally but remained above RBI’s 6 per cent upper tolerance band for the second straight month in February 2023, with the Consumer Price Index pegged at 6.44 per cent. In January, the retail inflation was 6.52 per cent.

India’s retail inflation was above RBI’s 6 per cent target for three consecutive quarters and had managed to fall back to the RBI’s comfort zone only in November 2022. The question now is whether the RBI will further hike rates or put a brake on it for time being. According to advisory firm Emkay Global Financial Services, RBI is likely to hike the repo rate by 25 basis points (100 basis points is equivalent to 1 percentage point).

SBI Research in its latest Ecowrap report said RBI is expected to pause its interest rate hike and the current 6.5 per cent repo rate could be the terminal rate.

“Traders should hedge their positions ahead of the RBI policy announcement on Thursday, which will be closely watched to see if the central bank indicates a pause or continues to raise rates in order to keep inflation under control,” said Deven Mehata, Equity Research Analyst, Choice Broking. (ANI)