RBI retains interest rates, indicates cut from now on

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Mumbai, Dec 16: Concerned over economic slowdown, the Reserve Bank today (Dec 16) kept interest rates unchanged and indicated that it could cut key policy rates from now onwards to arrest falling growth while keeping a close vigil on inflation.

"While inflation remains on its projected trajectory, downside risks to growth have clearly increased... Further rates hike may not be warranted," the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in it its mid-quarter review of monetary policy.

The economic growth has come down to 6.9 per cent in the second quarter of the current fiscal from 8.1 per cent in the corresponding quarter in the previous financial year even as inflation remains close to the double-digit mark. The industrial growth registering a negative growth of 5.1 per cent in October too may have prompted RBI to maintain the status quo.

The central bank maintained repo (rate at which banks borrow from RBI) at 8.5 per cent, reverse repo (rate at which the RBI borrows from banks) at 7.5 per cent.

The halt in rate increase comes after 13 hikes since March 2010.

The RBI has also decided to retain the cash reserve ratio (CRR), the amount banks need to park with the RBI, at six per cent. The industry was expecting a marginal cut in the CRR to induce liquidity in the system to promote investments.

"I cannot really speculate on when we might start cutting rates, but certainly that is an event, that an action that is on the way forward...," RBI Governor D Subbarao said on the sidelines of an event.

The RBI will make an assessment of its growth and inflation projections for 2011-12 in the third quarter review next month, the policy statement said.


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