New Delhi: India’s annual wholesale price inflation eased for the third straight month in February after touching an eight-month high in November, helped by a softer rise in food and fuel prices, government data showed on Wednesday.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which has kept rates steady since a 25 basis-point cut in August, is widely expected to keep them unchanged at its next policy review on April 5.
Annual wholesale price inflation last month slowed to 2.48%, from a provisional 2.84% rise in January.
The latest inflation number was in line with a 2.50% increase forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.
Wholesale food prices in February rose 0.07% from a year earlier, compared with 1.65% in January, the data showed. From a year earlier, the prices of pulses have fallen by nearly 25% and of sugar by almost 10%.
However, vegetables prices in February were up 15.3% from a year ago period, the data showed.
India’s retail inflation rate, the main policy target for the RBI, declined for the second straight month in February, to 4.44%, but remained above the central bank’s 4% medium-term target.
Several analysts said they would monitor how a hike in import taxes last month across agri-commodities such as oilseeds, pulses and wheat would impact domestic food inflation. To date, the impact has been muted.
The central bank expects retail inflation to pick up to 5.1% to 5.6% in April-September before easing, assuming normal rainfall.