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RBI to Go Fast With Rate Hikes This Year, Slow the Next – Reuters Poll

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks behind the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) logo inside its headquarters in Mumbai, India, April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

By Arsh Tushar Mogre and Prerana Bhat

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The Reserve Bank of India will concentrate interest rate hikes over the coming months in a relatively short tightening cycle, according to a Reuters poll of economists who expect the repo rate to reach its terminal level early next year.

Following a surprise rate rise on May 4, several members of the Monetary Policy Committee called for more in upcoming meetings this year to control sticky price pressures, which hit an eight-year high last month.

That sentiment was echoed in a May 26-June 1 Reuters poll that predicted the central bank would raise its key policy rate by at least 100 basis points over the next four MPC meetings.

The RBI was expected to follow up its unscheduled 40 basis point repo rate hike in May to 4.40% with another move at the policy meeting on June 8 – a “no-brainer” according to governor Shaktikanta Das.

By how much was unclear as forecasts were split six ways, ranging between 25 and 75 basis points. That is only marginally changed from the seven-way split in a similar poll taken a month ago. [RBI/INT]

The repo rate was expected to reach its pre-pandemic level of 5.15% or higher next quarter, according to 41 of 47 respondents. It will end the year at 5.50%, the median showed, 110 basis points above where it is now and 19 of 47 saw it even higher.

“Most of the hikes will come this year and we expect this cycle to end in April next year…the urgency for more hikes will continue to diminish from Q4 (2022) onwards,” said Miguel Chanco, chief emerging Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Indeed, the predicted tightening path for next year was more subdued with only 40 basis points pencilled in the first half before a pause, poll medians showed.

“The RBI was very much behind the curve in terms of its thinking on inflation and what to do on interest rates. It still seems to me they have rose tinted glasses in terms of the future outlook of prices,” Chanco added.

While inflation looks set to remain elevated, reflecting high global energy and food costs, economic growth prospects have started to look bleak. GDP growth slowed to its weakest in a year last quarter on a year ago, the third consecutive slowdown.

This may lead the RBI – which had long prioritised growth over inflation, holding rates steady until abruptly raising them at an unscheduled meeting – to consider ending this tightening cycle less than a year after starting it.

When asked what the terminal repo rate would be, 14 of 26 economists said 6.00% or higher, while the rest pencilled in a lower rate. Forecasts ranged from 5.15-6.50%.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents, 17, said the terminal rate would be reached by end-Q2 2023, roughly in line with the median from the quarterly forecasts. Six said the second half of 2023, while only three said the cycle would go on until 2024.

But economists said much would depend on price pressures over the coming months.

Suvodeep Rakshit, senior economist at Kotak Institutional Equities, said if inflation were to remain in the 6%-7% range well into the current and next fiscal year, the terminal rate would have to be higher than he currently expects.

“We have to shift it (the terminal rate) higher, closer to where you’re seeing your one-year-ahead inflation pan out. It is not a number cast in stone, it will evolve along with the inflation trajectory.”

RBI to go fast with rate hikes this year, slow the next – Reuters poll

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Oil Extends Losses As Recession Fears Mount

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sticker reads crude oil on the side of a storage tank in the Permian Basin in Mentone, Loving County, Texas, U.S. November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant/

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell 2% in early trade on Thursday, extending losses from the previous day, as investors worried that aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes could trigger a recession and dent fuel demand.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $2.39, or 2.3%, to $103.80 a barrel by 0031 GMT. Brent crude futures dropped $2.24, or 2.0%, to $109.50 a barrel.

Both benchmarks tumbled around 3% on Wednesday to hit their lowest levels since mid-May.

Investors are continuing to assess how worried they need to be about central banks potentially pushing the world economy into recession as they attempt to curb inflation with interest rate increases.

“Oil markets remained under pressure as investors were concerned that U.S. rate hikes would stall an economic recovery and dampen fuel demand,” said Kazuhiko Saito, chief analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd.

“The U.S. and European hedge funds have been selling off their positions ahead of the end of the second quarter, which is also cooling investor sentiment,” he said, predicting the WTI could fall below $100 a barrel before the July 4 holiday in the United States.

The Federal Reserve is not trying to engineer a recession to stop inflation but is fully committed to bringing prices under control even if doing so risks an economic downturn, U.S. central bank chief Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, called on Congress to pass a three-month suspension of the federal gasoline tax to help combat record pump prices and provide temporary relief for American families this summer.

“The news temporarily boosted the oil product prices, but it was later viewed that even if the gasoline tax was suspended, retail prices would remain high, making it difficult to stimulate demand,” Fujitomi’s Saito said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said its weekly oil data, which was scheduled for release on Thursday, will be delayed due to systems issues until at least next week.

Oil extends losses as recession fears mount

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BMW Starts Production at New $2.2 Billion China Plant to Ramp up EV Output

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A BMW iX electric vehicle (EV) is seen displayed at the BMW booth during a media day for the Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai, China April 19, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Germany’s BMW said on Thursday that production has formally begun at a new plant in China with an investment of 15 billion yuan ($2.24 billion) as the carmaker accelerates electric vehicle (EV) production.

The Lydia plant, BMW’s third car assembly facility in China, located in the northeastern city of Shenyang, Liaoning province, will increase BMW’s annual output in the world’s biggest auto market to 830,000 vehicles from 700,0000 in 2021, the company said.

The plant is designed to be capable of producing battery-powered electric cars only according to market demand on its flexible manufacturing lines, BMW said.

The first model that will roll off the Lydia plant’s production lines is the i3, a pure electric mid-sized sports sedan, BMW said, increasing the range of its EV models for Chinese customers to 13 next year.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Chinese automakers such as BYD dominate the booming EV market in China, with sales more than doubling from a year ago. Meanwhile kings of the internal combustion engine age such as General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Volkswagen (ETR:VOWG_p) are falling behind.

Nearly a quarter of the cars sold in China in the first five months of this year were powered by batteries, according to data from China Association of Automotive Manufactures.

Meanwhile BMW sold 208,507 vehicles in China, its biggest market, in the first quarter, marking a 9.2% drop from a year ago, according to a company filing.

($1 = 6.6983 Chinese yuan renminbi)

BMW starts production at new $2.2 billion China plant to ramp up EV output

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Asian Stocks Down After Fed Chair Acknowledges the Risk of a Recession

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(C) Reuters

By Zhang Mengying

Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down on Thursday morning as investors assessed the monetary policy outlook after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the risk of a recession.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stabalized by 8:45 PM ET (1:45 AM GMT).

South Korea’s KOSPI edged down 0.10%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 rose 0.30%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.62%.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.39% while the Shenzhen Component was down 0.49%.

U.S. 10-year Treasuries yields declined two basis points to 3.13%.

Investors’ concerns grew as Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the risk of a recession. Powell said that an aggressive interest rate hike could lead to an economic contraction and called a soft landing “very challenging” in his testimony to the Senate Wednesday.

“We are still in an era where uncertainty is elevated and is expected to remain so for quite a while,” Advisors Capital Management portfolio manager JoAnne Feeney told Bloomberg.

“It’s risky right now in terms of the forward outlook for the global economy. Recession risk has clearly risen.”

Powell “has acknowledged that rates will continue to increase, but the FOMC committee is cognizant of watching incoming data, suggesting the Fed will not be exclusively on autopilot with tightening,” Integrity Asset Management portfolio manager Joe Gilbert told Bloomberg.

Powell will continue his testimony to the House later in the day.

On the data front, U.S. initial jobless claims is due on Thursday while U.S. University of Michigan consumer sentiment will be released on Friday.

Asian Stocks Down after Fed Chair Acknowledges the Risk of a Recession

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