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India lifts interest rates further to combat inflation

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by Kay Mitchell
”India

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has today raised key interest rates for the thirteenth time since March 2010, in a bid to tame stubbornly high inflation.

The central bank lifted its main rate to 8.5% from 8.25% as inflation soars on the back of higher food and fuel prices and the measures were widely expected.

Figures recently revealed India’s wholesale price inflation rose to 9.72% last month on an annual basis – significantly above the central bank’s target of between 4% and 5%.

This represented the tenth consecutive month that inflation has been above the 9% mark.

Inflation reached a two-year high earlier this year of 10.16%, after food, fuel prices and manufactured goods surged – the highest among the Group of 20 leading nations.

Annual food inflation has surged, causing major problems for the 450 million people who live below the poverty line in the country.

However, economists say that the RBI has a difficult task to bring inflation down amid signs of slowing growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has previously said inflation is a “serious threat” to the country’s growth.

It is currently the world’s second fastest-growing major economy, behind China. However, the central bank has slashed its growth forecast from 8% to 7.6% for the fiscal year that ends next March.

In a statement, the RBI said: “Slower global growth will have an adverse impact on domestic growth, particularly on industrial production, given the rising inter-linkages of the Indian economy with the global economy.”

In the meantime, the RBI warned that inflation will remain high in the short-term.

“Inflation is broad-based and above the comfort level of the Reserve Bank. Further, these levels are expected to persist for two more months,” the bank added.

Inflationary pressures are rife throughout the world, particularly in Asia, and many central banks are hiking interest rates in order to tame inflation.

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News posted: October 25, 2011

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