Bloomberg | | Posted by Singh Rahul Sunilkumar

India’s inflation quickened for the first time in four months as food prices climbed, giving the central bank reason to keep interest rates higher for longer.

Consumer price inflation exceeded the central bank’s target range for the second straight month (REUTERS)

The consumer price index rose 5.5 per cent in November from a year earlier, statistics ministry data showed Tuesday, lower than the 5.78 per cent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Inflation picked up from 4.87 per cent in October, moving further away from the central bank’s 4 per cent target.

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Food inflation, which makes up about half of the consumer price basket, accelerated to 8.7 per cent from 6.61 per cent in October. Prices of vegetables such as onions and tomatoes have surged after erratic rains during the monsoon period led to shortages.

The government has restricted a wide range of food staples, including onions, wheat and rice, from export as it tries to rein in price pressures ahead of a nationwide election in 2024. Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das warned last week that rising food prices complicates the central bank’s efforts to curb inflation.

The RBI kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fifth straight policy meeting last week, with economists predicting officials will hold firm until next year, possibly only easing after the US Federal Reserve begins cutting interest rates.

The statistics ministry also released industrial production data for October, which showed growth accelerated to 11.7 per cent from 5.8 per cent in the previous month.

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