Retail inflation cools to five-month low in March; February IIP slows


Retail inflation, based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), cooled to 4.28 per cent in March on falling food prices compared to 4.44 per cent in February, government data showed on Thursday. The CPI numbers in March had eased to a five-month low.
As per the latest data, this is the third consecutive month where inflation softened after hitting a 17-month high in December. The food inflation or CPFI numbers saw a negative growth of 0.44 per cent in March. Analysts polled by news agency Reuters had expected consumer price inflation to further cool in March at 4.20 per cent.
Going forward, experts believe inflation is likely to inch up in the coming months. This year’s budget is focused on rural welfare, in particular an increase to the guaranteed price for agricultural produce – called the minimum support price (MSP), which would be inflationary, they say.
“The consumer price index is likely to turn up from April 2018 onwards,” said Teresa John, economist at Nirmal Bang.
While inflation has stayed above the Reserve Bank’s medium-term target of 4.0 per cent, the central bank kept its repo rate on hold last week and sharply cut its projection for price rises from April through September.
In another set of data released by the government, industrial production in February slowed to 7.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent in January.


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