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Retail inflation at 4-month low of 4.44 per cent

14 March 2018

The United States consumer price index (CPI) has expanded 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted term, Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed.

In December, the index of industrial production (IIP) grew 7.1%, while consumer price index (CPI)-based inflation had slowed to 5.1% in January.

NEW DELHI:Backed by better than expected performance by the manufacturing and consumer durables sector, India's factory production grew to 7.5 per cent in January over the same month a year ago, while retail inflation cooled to 4.44 per cent in February, well within the comfort zone of the government.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3-percent increase in January.

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Consumer prices increased at a modest pace in February, underscoring that inflation pressures appear to be muted for now. Volume is low as investors prepare for a week of major economic reports including consumer inflation, producer inflation, retail sales and building permits.

Meanwhile, the Index of Industrial Production rose 7.5 per cent in January, led by robust expansion in the manufacturing sector.

In the women's sector, prices rose in all categories, led by a 4.8% increase in outerwear and a 2.4% hike in suits and separates, while prices for dresses were up 1.9% and tags for the underwear, nightwear, sportswear and accessories group were 1.1% higher.

Other areas that frequently see price hikes were not showing inflationary pressure in February.

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Tuesday's report follows the Labor Department's February jobs report last week, which showed average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose 2.6% in February from a year earlier, a slight pullback from the 2.8% annual wage gain in January.

Risks like the higher minimum support prices (MSPs) for food grains promised in the budget, according to them, can push up the inflation in the next fiscal year.

Investors are watching the inflation numbers closely for clues on how quickly the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year.

In February 2017, however, it was 3.65 per cent. Capital goods, which point to rising investment demand in the economy, recorded positive growth for the sixth straight month, growing at 14.6%, signalling a revival in private investment. The index rose 1.8% for the 12 months ending in February. The RBI in its monetary policy review last month had estimated retail inflation at 5.1% for January-March 2018. The potential for four rate increases this year also held steady at around 25%.

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The IIP growth in January this year was mainly on account of uptick in manufacturing sector which constitutes 77.63 per cent of the index.

Retail inflation at 4-month low of 4.44 per cent