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Rising Global Oil, Coal Prices Pose Macro Risks For India: Morgan Stanley

Inflation will move back toward 5.5 percent by the quarter ending March 2022 after remaining below the 5 percent mark in the next few readings

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The rising commodity prices expose India to macro risks including on the already elevated inflation and growth fronts, a foreign brokerage said on Thursday. There has been 14 percent jump in oil prices to USD 83 per barrel and 15 percent rise in coal rate to USD 200 per metric tonne, analysts at Morgan Stanley said. 

This rise in energy prices, specifically oil, has prompted concerns of higher inflation, slower growth and whether this could lead to disruptive monetary policy tightening, they said. They added that there are upside risks to inflation, and growth will only improve from a two-year compounded annual growth rate, which will lead to normalisation of the policy.

Inflation will move back toward 5.5 percent by the quarter ending March 2022 after remaining below the 5 percent mark in the next few readings, it said, noting that a continued rise in energy prices, specifically oil, increases inflation risks. Assuming a complete pass through, a 10 percent rise in oil prices can increase CPI inflation by 0.40 percent, while on the current account balance side, given India imports 80 percent of oil demand, a 10 percent rise in oil prices can widen the CAD by 0.30 percent of GDP, it said.

However, the handsome exports will ensure that the current account gap remains restricted to 1 percent in FY22, they said. It's Swiss peer UBS said a USD 10 per barrel average increase in global crude prices would widen India's current account deficit (CAD) by USD 14 billion or 0.5 percent of GDP, and if oil prices rise towards USD 100 per barrel, it could temporarily push the CAD to about 3 percent.

In such a scenario, we think the rupee could also temporarily test 78 against the USD, it said. On the growth front, while near-term risks have emerged due to supply- side shortages (semiconductor chips affecting auto sector, coal shortages affecting power generation), at the margin the situation has been stable, and the brokerage expects the impact to be transitory.

High-frequency growth data is improving quickly, with most indicators having moved into positive zone on a two-year CAGR basis, it added. The RBI will start the process of policy normalisation with a 0.15-0.20 percent hike in the reverse repo rate (at which it absorbs excess liquidity) in December and February, it said, adding that the central bank may also hike the repo rate in February if growth improves further.

UBS attributed shortages in coal to understocking during the pre-monsoon months as per normative requirements, regulated supply to defaulting power plants by Coal India, a larger-than-expected rise in power demand on economic recovery, monsoon rainfall leading to floods in eastern and central states with coal mines, leading to logistical issues; and a decline in coal imports. There is little reason for discoms to restrict supply to industrial consumers in power shortages unless there is a policy directive, it said, pointing out that such consumers are the best for discoms.


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morgan stanley inflation Rising Global Oil coal prices