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Inflation Cooling Down 🧊

Stocks had a good run over the last week, as positive inflation data led to easing of pressure on the global and domestic fronts. Inflation has been the key determinant of how the markets move, for more than two years now.

What’s happening?

India’s retail inflation came in at 4.9% in October 2023, recording a five month low, and compared to 5.0% in September 2023.

Inflation was seen easing for cereal, meat and fish, milk, oil and fats, vegetables, clothing and housing. On the other hand, it was seen increasing compared to the previous month, for eggs, pulses and fuel.

This is good news, right?

Easing inflation is always good news. However, there are a couple of things to note here:

  1. The RBI’s comfort level on inflation is 4%, and despite the decrease, inflation is still above that target. For FY24, RBI expects inflation to remain at 5.4%. The RBI, in its bulletin mentioned that ‘we aren’t out of the woods yet, and have miles to go’

  2. Food constitutes to and determines half the inflation reading, and that has been up by >6% consistently. Even in November, food prices are seen remaining high with an uptick in prices for vegetables (especially onions) and pulses

These factors can result in RBI maintaining its status quo on rates through FY24, and perhaps some bit of FY25 as well. While not hiking rates is positive, cutting rates is a bigger positive we would have to wait a while for.

What’s happening globally?

The US markets saw a sharp spike in the last week on hopes that the Fed will stop hiking rates. CPI in the US slowed to a below-expected 3.2% YoY in October 2023, from 3.7% in the previous month.

In the US, ‘core inflation’, which does not include food or gas prices, rose at its slowest pace since September 2021, which further added to optimism.

A higher probability of the Fed not hiking rates works well for the entire world given the downward sensitivity of all asset classes to rate hikes, as yields hover near 5% levels.

What next?

The markets are bound to cheer the lowering inflation news for a bit, especially with this data being consistent across India and the US. Additionally, the strong results from last quarter and the current strength in festive sales are expected to keep the tailwinds on for a bit more.

Through this positive, we of course don’t rule out some interim falls led by central bank commentaries, high valuations and pre-election anxiety.

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