India's inflation likely increased to 7-month high in June, poll shows
India's retail inflation probably accelerated to a seven-month high in June on rising food and fuel prices, staying above the Reserve Bank of India's comfort zone for a second straight month, a Reuters poll showed.
While many of India's states have eased restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, supply-side disruptions remain and higher taxes on petroleum products continue to exert upward pressure on inflation.
The July 5-7 poll of 37 economists showed retail inflation rose to 6.58% in June from a year ago. It was 6.30% in May.
If realised, it would mean inflation above the central bank's target range of 2%-6% for a second month, putting pressure on the RBI to tame prices amid a faltering economic recovery.
"We believe the biggest driver of June inflation would be elevated levels of fuel prices engendered by high domestic tax on petroleum products and its pass-through to transportation costs," said Kunal Kundu, India economist at Societe Generale.
A recovery in global demand has driven a rally in commodity prices, including crude oil which contributed to record-high fuel prices in India.
Fuel prices have risen over 30% from May of last year, driving prices up across the board. Analysts expect high fuel prices and rising input costs for companies to keep inflation elevated for some time.
"I expect India's headline inflation to remain over 6% y/y for the next few months. Price pressures are coming mostly from the supply side, reflecting higher commodity prices and supply chain bottlenecks," said Tuuli McCully, head of Asia-Pacific economics at Scotiabank.
"I expect the RBI to tolerate the higher inflation readings through 2021, as there are no signs of significant demand-driven inflation, and as domestic demand remains soft on the back of virus-related issues."
The RBI is facing the difficult conundrum of balancing growth-inflation dynamics.
While the RBI's focus remains on growth, minutes of the June meeting showed the Monetary Policy Committee would remain watchful on inflation. read more
"Needless to say, the Reserve Bank of India is caught between a rock and hard place, as with higher inflation, monetary policy efforts to revive growth lose a degree of freedom," noted economists from ANZ.
The wholesale price index (INWPI=ECI) is expected to remain high at 12.23% in June from at least a 15-year high of 12.94% year-on-year recorded in May. read more
Industrial output (INIP=ECI) likely surged 32.0% in May, the poll showed.
That jump was likely to have been led by the rise in India's infrastructure output (ININFR=ECI), which makes up about 40% of overall industrial production.