Inflation cools but stays above RBI target, industrial growth slows

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Food inflation softened to 4.58 per cent in January from 4.85 per cent a month ago.

"The continued correction in prices of vegetables would dampen food and headline inflation in the ongoing month".

As the intraday chart above makes clear, that was the market's first response to the CPI number: the 10-year TIPS yield jumped from 0.76 to 0.80 in the first 10 minutes after the number appeared. Inflation in the vegetable segment slowed to 26.97 per cent. Prices of fruits, too, rose at a lower pace of 6.24 per cent last month.

"The Fed's job now is to prevent the economy from overheating", said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh.

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Last week, the Bank of England indicated interest rates might rise sooner than expected when it said it wanted to get inflation closer to 2% within two years rather than three.

The 1.7 percent monthly gain in apparel prices, which account for about 3 percent of the CPI, was the biggest since 1990. Data for December was revised to show sales unchanged instead of rising 0.4 percent as previously reported.

Against a broadly stronger euro, sterling weakened 0.2 percent to 89.04 pence.

On the Index of Industrial Production data, Ghosh said, "We expect a better Q3FY18 with 12-15% increase in revenues on YoY basis. Manufacturing recoded a robust growth of 8.4 percent in Dec17 over Dec16", Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet.

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This prompted markets to price in as much as a 70 percent chance of a quarter-point rise in interest rates by May, and a roughly 50 percent chance of a further increase in rates to one percent by the end of the year - a level last seen in 2009.

Retail inflation remained above 5% in January, following up on the 5.21% growth in CPI seen in December 2017.

Rising inflation could hurt consumer spending, which is already showing signs of slowing. "The eventual rabi harvest, distribution of the 2018 monsoon and the operationalisation of the proposals made in the Union Budget for 2018-2019 including the launch of Operation Greens and the augmentation of minimum support prices (MSPs), would impact the trajectory of food inflation going forward", Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist at ICRA said. Given that apparel prices change massively between December and January due to post-Christmas discounting, the entire difference may be a result of seasonal adjustment issues. Even so, equities have recovered some ground, advancing for three trading sessions in a row through Tuesday.

That scenario strengthens the case for the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to continue raising rates, which is what helped intensify the recent discomfort among investors.

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