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India’s March WPI inflation accelerates, adding pressure on retail prices – Metro US

India’s March WPI inflation accelerates, adding pressure on retail prices

FILE PHOTO: Debashis Dhara, a vegetable vendor, speaks on his
FILE PHOTO: Debashis Dhara, a vegetable vendor, speaks on his mobile phone at a retail market area in Kolkata

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India’s annual wholesale inflation rate accelerated to 14.55% in March, completing a year in double-digit territory as firms grapple with rising input costs and pass on higher prices to consumers.

Rising input costs for products such as fuel, metals and chemicals have pushed up wholesale prices, a proxy for producer prices. This is adding to pressure on retail prices, economists said.

March’s figure was above the 13% forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts, as fuel prices rose 34.52% on the year, versus their 31.50% annual rise in February.

Headline retail inflation accelerated to 6.95% in March, its highest in 17 months and above the upper limit of the central bank’s tolerance band for a third straight month, putting pressure on the bank to raise interest rates.

Economists have revised their forecast for inflation numbers for the coming months, and expectations for rate hikes by the central bank by up to 200 basis points by the third quarter of 2023 from their earlier estimates of 150 basis points.

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of India said it had started to move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy, under which its key lending rate lies at a record low, as its priorities shift to fighting surging inflation in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Wholesale manufactured product prices rose 10.71%, against 9.84% in the prior month, while food prices accelerated at an 8.71% pace, versus 8.47% the previous month, data showed.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Hugh Lawson)

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