India In-Focus — Shares drop; poll says high inflation to prolong; Pernod puts new India investments on hold

RIYADH:  Indian shares tracked Asian peers lower on Tuesday, with cautious investors awaiting a slew of inflation data due this week for clues on the scale of monetary tightening by central banks while the rupee hit another record low.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.4 percent at 16,154 at 0504 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.3 percent to 54,220.50.

India’s high inflation to prolong, rates to rise more: Poll

India’s inflation will hold above the top of the central bank’s tolerance band for at least the rest of 2022, longer than previously thought, making several more interest rate hikes in the coming months inevitable, a Reuters poll showed.

One of the later entrants in the current round of global monetary policy tightening, the Reserve Bank of India raised its repo rate by a total of 90 basis points in May and June, but the inflation outlook has deteriorated since an April poll.

Soaring global commodity prices have kept inflation above the RBI’s 6 percent upper tolerance range all year.

So far, New Delhi’s fiscal response to the rising costs of living in the country of 1.4 billion has been modest.

Inflation was set to measure 7.3 percent and 6.4 percent in the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2022, respectively, according to forecasts from the July 4-11 Reuters poll. 

In the previous survey, inflation was set to return to the RBI’s tolerance band by end-year.

“In India, inflation will prove much more stubborn than in other parts of the region. Things will get better, but they will get better much faster in other parts of Asia,” said Miguel Chanco, chief emerging Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Average inflation this fiscal year was penciled in at 6.8 percent according to a survey of 42 economists, a sharp upgrade from 5.5 percent in the April poll, coming down to 5.2 percent and 4.7 percent in the following two years, respectively.

The RBI is expected to further hike the repo rate, currently at 4.90 percent, by other three-quarters of a percentage point to 5.65 percent by end-year. That is slightly higher than a separate survey taken in June, which put rates at 5.50 percent by then.

The poll further revealed that 25 of the 48 economists surveyed forecast rates to be at 5.50 percent or higher by the end of this quarter.

Pernod puts new India investments on hold

French spirits group Pernod Ricard has put new Indian investments on hold due to long-running tax disputes with authorities on valuing liquor imports, according to Reuters.

Its shares fell 1.8 percent on the news, underperforming peers.

The world’s second-biggest spirits group said its legal wrangles have progressively worsened since it started nearly 30 years ago, making it tough to do business in the country and raising the prospect of a significant financial hit.

The maker of Chivas Regal, Glenlivet Scotch whisky and Absolut vodka is lobbying Indian authorities, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, to resolve the matter.

“This ever-lasting litigation has been a big strain on our ease of doing business and has inhibited fresh investment by our group headquartered in Paris for expansion of business in India,” Pernod wrote in a Nov. 24 letter to Modi’s office.

(With input from Reuters)