Economic Roundup, February 22, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investment (FII) flows

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • Amid net outflows of FII in the last 12 months and slowing of FDI, there could be pressure building up on India’s foreign exchange reserves and the rupee especially should India’s trade deficit widen in the coming months. Other than this risk, the rest of India’s macroeconomic indicators – primarily growth, inflation, interest rates, and the exchange rate vis-a-vis the US dollar and other major currencies – are relatively stable.

What to expect from the markets next week?

While US trade talks with China, the US-North Korea summit, and domestic US politics could impact the US markets next week, their affect on the Indian markets may not be that significant. Indian financial markets could be range-bound and perhaps even flat as there are no major economic indicators expected next week.

Economic Roundup, February 08, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The new RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, given the low consumer price index (CPI) inflation reading – closer to the RBI’s lower end of the 2 – 6 percent range – in December 2018, has declared victory on achieving price stability and reoriented monetary policy to be pro-growth by changing the policy stance to “neutral” (as we expected 2 weeks ago) and at the same time also cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.25 percent while staying committed to the 4 percent medium-term inflation target. It assured the markets that it would ensure adequate liquidity through open market operations as needed. The RBI is also open to transferring some reserves to the government as determined by the RBI’s central board. RBI policy has thus resolved the issues the central bank had with the government before Urjit Patel stepped down as governor. Low inflation and macroeconomic stability have helped the cause of both the new governor and the government. The financial markets responded accordingly by moving into positive territory.

What to expect from the markets next week?

Corporate earnings reports will continue to determine the path of the major Indian indices next week amid international concerns about slowing global growth and continuing trade tensions between the US and China. Even as growth is projected to be lower around the world, the United States – India’s principal export market – is holding steady and will remain so especially because the US Federal Reserve has signaled a “patient” approach to future rate increases given the tenuous global situation particularly in Europe and China. Indian financial markets will respond to economic developments around the world only insofar as they affect India’s exports.

Economic Roundup, February 01, 2019

Economic Environment

  • US Federal Reserve policy

  • India 2019 interim budget

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • US Federal Reserve stated in its policy statement at the end of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on January 30, 2019 that it will be “patient” in future monetary policy actions implicitly recognizing the possibility of a slowdown in the US economy primarily due to external factors in the global economy at large and “muted inflation pressures”. It has assured the markets that it has the tools necessary beyond interest rate policy to stimulate the US economy should it become necessary in the future. This has boosted financial markets which were concerned about slowing global growth in the face of rising US interest rates and the US trade war with China.

  • The Indian interim (not full fledged) budget in the election year is scheduled to be presented on February 01, 2019. Rural and jobs-related spending will be in focus, though the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to remain under control. The financial markets will be scouring for information that will affect the various sectors and so some volatility can be expected but the market reaction to the budget could be muted because it is only an interim budget before the general election in April – May 2019. The general election outcome will have a bigger impact on the Indian financial markets than this interim budget.

What to expect from the markets next week?

Continued range-bound and flat behavior can be expected in the coming week with some volatility due to the budget. It must be noted that corporate earnings reports will continue to determine whether the major Indian indices will recover from being close to correction territory.

Economic Roundup, January 25, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policy in February

  • Global economic growth

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The consumer price index (CPI) inflation on a year-on-year basis is low at 2.19 percent in December 2018, far less than what the RBI has to worry about, closer to the lower end of the RBI inflation targeting range of 2-6 percent raising the possibility that the RBI could return its stance to neutral at the February 07, 2019 meeting of the monetary policy committee (MPC) and perhaps could lower the repo rate later in 2019, giving a boost to the financial markets. The Indian financial markets – other than reacting to developments abroad – can be expected to continue to depend on corporate fundamentals given that the macro situation is stable for now.

  • China’s growth slowdown to around 6.5 percent appears to be more on a permanent basis and this could benefit India, particularly, amidst US trade war with China, if “Make in India” picks up. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned of slowdown of global growth in 2019 and 2020 and this has pressured the global financial markets. The affect of global growth on India and local financial markets will depend on the extent to which it will affect India’s exports and the stock prices of export-oriented companies.

What to expect from the markets next week?

Continued range-bound and flat behavior can be expected in the coming week. It must be noted that corporate earnings reports will continue to determine whether the major Indian indices will recover from being close to correction territory.

Economic Roundup, January 18, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Interim budget and macroeconomic indicators

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • Government of India is scheduled to present the interim budget in this election year on February 01 for the parliament’s approval. The government appears to be keen on expansionary fiscal policy before the general election which is making many observors doubt the government’s commitment to a fiscal deficit target of 3.3 percent of GDP in the year 2018-19. It is also expecting to persuade the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to transfer an interim dividend of Rs 30,000-40,000 crore to the government by March. All of this is to be able to raise consumer spending and create jobs which have become a drag on the economy. That being said, domestic politics aside, Indian economy is doing well, projected to grow in the range of 7.2 – 7.5 percent in 2018-19 and 2019-20 despite the slowdown in the rest of the global economy. India’s trade balance is less negative and consumer price index (CPI) inflation on a year-on-year basis is low at 2.19 percent in December 2018, far less than what the RBI has to worry about, closer to the lower end of the RBI inflation targeting range of 2-6 percent. Therefore, unless growth forecasts are seriously wrong or inflation rises to be of concern to policy makers at the RBI, the Indian financial markets – other than reacting to developments abroad – can be expected to depend on corporate fundamentals.

What to expect from the markets next week?

Continued range-bound and flat behavior can be expected in the coming week. It must be noted that corporate earnings reports will continue to determine whether the major Indian indices will recover from being close to correction territory last week.

Economic Roundup, January 11, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Global growth and corporate earnings

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The markets continue to focus on global growth and corporate earnings. As the 2018 Fourth Quarter corporate earnings releases begin, US earnings are thus far not encouraging potentially signaling a slowdown but there are still many companies that are yet to report. Indian economy, however, has strong fundamentals while the rest of the world economy appears to potentially experience a slowdown in 2019 including the US economy though the United States may not enter a recession. Global economic concerns and political risk in relation to the upcoming parliamentary general elections in India in 2019 will continue to affect the Indian financial markets through the first two quarters of calendar year 2019.

    What to expect from the markets next week?

Continued range-bound and flat behavior can be expected in the coming week. It must be noted that beginning next week corporate earnings reports could determine whether the major Indian indices will formally enter correction territory because both BSE SENSEX and NSE NIFTY 50 are already hovering close to 10 percent decline from their 52-week highs. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has reported solid growth in the last quarter of the 2018 calendar year but it is yet to be seen if this is an anomaly or a trend in the technology sector and in earnings as a whole for all the reporting companies. If it is a trend, it is encouraging for the Indian economy because it could bring the major stock indices out of being close to correction territory and also portend solid gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Economic Roundup, January 04, 2019

Economic Environment

  • Global growth and corporate earnings

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • Indian financial markets have been skittish taking cues from volatility in the US markets due to political risk and uncertainty about the upcoming 2018 Fourth Quarter corporate earnings releases beginning January. Indian economy, however, has strong fundamentals while the rest of the world economy appears to potentially experience a slowdown in 2019 including the US economy though the United States may not enter a recession. Global economic concerns and political risk in relation to the upcoming parliamentary general elections in India in 2019 will continue to affect the Indian financial markets through the first two quarters of calendar year 2019.

    What to expect from the markets next week?

Indian financial markets will continue to takes cues from global markets on global growth though they may not be as volatile as the US and other major global financial markets. Range-bound and flat behavior can be expected in the coming week. It must be noted that beginning next week corporate earnings reports could determine whether the major Indian indices will formally enter correction territory because both BSE SENSEX and NSE NIFTY 50 are already hovering close to 10 percent decline from their 52-week highs.

Economic Roundup, December 21, 2018

Economic Environment

  • US monetary policy

  • Government infusion of funds into public sector banks (PSBs)

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The US Federal Reserve, just as we expected, despite pressure from the markets not to raise the federal funds rate, has raised the rate to the range of 2.25 – 2.5% while slowing down the number of expected rate increases in 2019 to 2. This gives the Fed time to take stock of the US and global economies perhaps until June 2019 before deciding on interest rate policy again while being mindful of whether the interest rate is at neutral – the interest rate at which economic growth is neither supported nor restrained – with inflation hovering near the Fed’s target of 2 percent year-on-year rise in core (meaning excluding the volatile food and energy costs) personal consumption expenditures (PCE). The US financial markets which fell interpreted the Fed’s December 19, 2018 decision to raise the interest rate by 25 basis points while slowing rate increases in 2019 as being dovish, reinforcing their bearish sentiments about US and global growth. For India, as with other emerging markets, interest rate increases by the Fed coupled with apprehensions about slowdown in global growth pressure the financial markets because of dollar flight back to US and fear of domestic economic slowdown.

  • Indian government’s decision to infuse funds into PSBs to ease credit crunch in the system and the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) decision to ease liquidity in the financial sector will boost PSB and NBFC stocks.

    What to expect from the markets next week?

Indian financial markets will continue to takes cues from global markets on global growth though little else can be expected in terms of news before the end of the year to have any major impact on them. Continuing decline in the oil price because of oversupply concerns due to expectation of global economic downturn despite agreement to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day between the Organization of the Petroluem Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. For India, the falling oil price balances any downward pressure on the economy and rupee from US Fed rate increases and slowing global growth.

Economic Roundup, December 14, 2018

Economic Environment

  • New Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor

  • Elections in 5 states

  • US-China trade tensions and global growth

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The government has quickly appointed Shaktikanta Das as Urjit Patel’s replacement after his sudden resignation. Signals of business continuity at the RBI from the new governor have prevented market anxiety. Given that annual inflation in November is well below RBI inflation target and October industrial production has surged, RBI policy is expected to be status quo on interest rates.

  • In the run up to the general election in 2019, 5 states have gone to the polls on December 07. The results announced on December 11, despite the loss in all 5 states of the ruling BJP, have not led to any unusual volatility in the markets which have, in fact, welcomed the winners’ promises to deal with youth unemployment and farmer sentiments as a sign of support for the economy.

  • The primary concern for the markets has been uncertainty about US-China trade which they have linked to the slowing global growth. The global markets, with India taking cues from their reaction to developments in the US-China trade situation, want a resolution to the trade tensions to alleviate their concern about any possible global economic slowdown. However, it is unlikely to be resolved within the next 90 days unless China meets US demands on bilateral trade. The global markets, as a result, will remain somewhat volatile through the end of the first quarter of 2019.

    What to expect from the markets next week?

Indian financial markets will continue to takes cues from global markets on global growth though they could breathe a sigh of relief because of expected slower pace of Fed rate increases due to probable slowing of US growth at around the Fed’s inflation target and the RBI status quo, despite a new governor, but with a watchful eye on Indian economic growth outlook also at around the RBI’s inflation target.

Economic Roundup, December 07, 2018

Economic Environment

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy

  • US-China trade uncertainty

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia

  • Global growth

How are the Indian and global economic environments affecting the financial markets?

  • The RBI left interest rates unchanged given the slowdown of the Indian economy in the July-September quarter and lower than target inflation while maintaining its stance of ‘calibrated tightening’. This decision by the RBI was widely expected though the markets also expected a change in the RBI’s stance to ‘neutral’. The reaction of the Indian equity markets was bearish because of the RBI signal that it is not bullish on the economy. Some deterioration in the macro situation was also reported by the government with the Indian fiscal deficit exceeding the fiscal year target with the year still one quarter away from being completed. It must be noted here that the trade deficit is also increasing and is highly sensitive to the oil price. The twin fiscal and trade deficits do not bode well for the strength of the rupee. If inflation holds at or below target, we expect the RBI to return to ‘neutral’ stance with a bias of lowering interest rates next year depending on economic growth to boost the economy though we also expect the RBI not to act on lowering interest rates because of inflation concerns until Indian gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate falls to about 6.5% in 2019. Therefore, given the forecast of 7.2% for GDP growth rate in 2019, we expect, on balance, the RBI to maintain status quo on interest rates through the end of the fiscal year 2018-2019.

  • Indian equity market reaction to US-China trade uncertainty was mixed despite a sharp fall in US markets. It is still unclear how the US-China trade dispute would be resolved while noting that India, in fact, stands to benefit from both US and China should their trade dispute continue.

  • OPEC and Russia agreed on Friday to together cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels-per-day for the next 6 months to prop up the oil price. It is unclear to what extent they would succeed in doing so given rising US production which will only stand to benefit from propped up oil prices. This, however, is not good news for India because higher oil prices will only cause the trade deficit to rise and pressure the rupee.

  • Concerns about global growth have caused all the major advanced and emerging equity markets to fall. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has clarified that it only expects global growth to slowdown without the risk of a recession.

    What to expect from the markets next week?

Indian financial markets will continue to takes cues from global markets on global growth though they could breathe a sigh of relief because of expected slower pace of Fed rate increases because of probable slowing of US growth at around the Fed’s inflation target and the RBI status quo but with concern about Indian economic growth outlook also at around the RBI’s inflation target.