India’s central bank lowers rates to give economy boost

India’s central bank lowers rates to give economy boost

NEW DELHI - The Associated Press
India’s central bank lowers rates to give economy boost

An aerial view of Mumbai city is seen. The Reserve Bank of India has cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.75 percent, first time in nine months. REUTERS photo

India’s central bank cut its key interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 7.75 percent yesterday, aiming to boost flagging growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also lowered its cash reserve ratio for banks by a quarter point to 4 percent, which means commercial banks can lend more.

India’s economic growth has slowed for several quarters amid high inflation and delays to economic reforms that chilled investment.

The central bank cut its economic growth forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2013 to 5.5 percent from 5.8 percent. It said the lower cash reserve ratio would release an extra 180 billion rupees ($3.3 billion) into the banking system. The RBI has held off cutting rates at previous monetary policy meetings because of high inflation, as its last rate cut was in April 2012.

In its latest monetary policy review, the bank said headline inflation had peaked and with a decline in prices of non-food manufactured products, it was likely that inflation would stabilize at its current levels in the coming year.

Waiting for investors
“This provides space, albeit limited, for monetary policy to give greater emphasis to growth risks,” it said, expecting the interest rate cut to encourage investment and support growth.

Steps taken by the government including liberalization of foreign investment in retail, aviation, broadcasting and insurance should help return the economy to a higher growth trajectory, according to
RBI. Analysts cautioned that with India scheduled to hold general elections in 2014, there was a likelihood of further government sops leading to increased inflation and spending blowouts.

Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank, said the funding situation of banks was very tight and there was a limit to which they could pass on the central bank’s lower interest rate. “The cut in the cash reserve ratio helps the situation only at the margins.”

Halted Indıa-Pakıstan trade resumes

MUZAFFARABAD – Agence France-Presse

Six Pakistani goods trucks crossed into Indian-administered Kashmir yesterday, an official said, ending a 20-day halt in trade sparked by deadly army clashes earlier this month.

The convoy, carrying onions, dates and dried fruits, crossed the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the two parts of the disputed Himalayan territory, shortly before midday.

Traders on the Pakistani side complained that the closure of the key crossing point had cost them 30 million rupees ($300,000) following the flare-up, which left five soldiers dead.

Brigadier Ismail Khan, the director general of Pakistan-administered Kashmir’s Trade and Travel Authority (TATA), told AFP that six trucks had gone to the Indian side at the Titrinot crossing.