Retail inflation rose to the highest in eight months.
Consumer Price Index inflation stood at 6.07% in February—the highest since June 2021—against 6.01% in the preceding month, according to data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on Monday.
Month-on-month, it rose 0.24% in February.
A Bloomberg poll of 37 economists had estimated inflation at 6%.
Inflation in food and beverages rose to 5.93% from 5.58% in January.
Core inflation was flat at 6.18% in February 2022, according to Bloomberg.
Inflation in February hit the upper end of the Monetary Policy Committee’s target range of 4(+/-2)% for the second month in a row. Inflation is seen rising for the next few months but easing thereafter. The Reserve Bank of India, at its last policy review in February, projected inflation at 5.7% in the fourth quarter of the current financial year. From there on, it’s seen easing to about 5% in first and second quarters and to 4% in the third quarter. Since then, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed up prices across commodities, rendering an upside risk to the forecast.
February CPI inflation stayed around the upper bound of the central bank’s target range for the second consecutive month, with food underpinned by higher protein costs while fuel segment eased on year-on-year terms but rose sequentially, Radhika Rao, economist at DBS Bank, said.
Impact of geopolitical risks via imported channels will percolate through upcoming fuel and administered gas price adjustments, she said, adding that a revision in oil assumptions at the April policy review will lay the ground for an upward revision in the RBI’s FY23 inflation target.
Suman Chowdhury, chief analytical officer at Acuité Ratings, also said that while the latest print may not still increase the average CPI inflation print beyond 5.5% for FY22, it is to be noted that it does not yet take into account the impact of the geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the incremental effect of crude oil beyond $100 per barrel. For FY23, CPI inflation is forecasted at 5% compared to 4.5% from RBI, he said.
Food And Beverage Inflation
Food and beverage inflation rose 5.9% in February- the highest in fifteen months. The rise was led by prices of cereals, eggs, meat, fish and vegetables.