India Macro Weekly: Economic activity paints mixed picture



For the fortnight ending July 22, 2017:

·         Real economic activity continued to look weak as per the latest Index of Industrial Production (IIP) release for May 2017, which puts growth at a meagre 1.7%, the slowest in three months. A decline in capital goods production as well as continued weakness in consumer durables’ production are responsible for the drag down, though majority of other segments have not performed well either.

·         The merchandise foreign trade report for June 2017 still giving room for optimism as both exports and imports continue to increase. Exports grew by 4.4% and imports by a far more robust 19%. Trade deficit, too, has come off its recent highs.

·         Inflation continues to surprise pleasantly, with that based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) coming in at low of 1.5% in June 2017.  Food price deflation led the decline, though core inflation too, is coming off.

·         Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) also came off to 0.9% in June 2017 on account of primary articles’ deflation.

·         The House Price Index (HPI) release for Q4, 2016-17 came in at 10.5%. HPI inflation is now at a one and a half year high, which is in contrast with recent trends in consumer price inflations, but aligns with the continued rise in other financial markets, like equities.

·         The foreign tourist report continued to be healthy, posting over 20% growth rates for the April-June 2017 quarter for both tourist arrivals as well as earnings.

·         With respect to Agriwatch, the rains are normal for the seasons as a whole. The pace of Kharif sowing also slowed down in the past week, though coverage under cotton continued to be strong.

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Initiating India Investment Index (Beta)



Gross capital formation accounts for over 32% of India’s GDP, making it one of the key components of the Indian economy. In line with Orbis Economics’s practice of developing alternative quantitative measures to get a better understanding of the Indian economy, the beta version of the India Investment Index (Triple I) has been constructed, which is a single point indicator for a monthly perspective on the latest trends in capital formation. It is a weighted average of a host of economic indicators with strong explanatory power for GCF, available on both a non-seasonally adjusted as well as seasonally adjusted basis.

For regular readers of the India Macro Weekly, which covers our other two proprietary indices – the Exchange Rate Index and the Consumer Conditions Measure – the India Investment Index is constructed along the same principles. A value above 100 indicates that investment activity is on the upturn compared to that during the last one year and a value less than 100 indicates that investment activity has declined compared to the last one year. A value of 100 indicates that investment activity is static.

The latest numbers for the Triple I, for April 2017, show a divergence between the trends for the non-seasonally adjusted (nsa) and seasonally adjusted (sa) series. While Triple I, nsa, is at 96.3, a sharp decline compared to the 112.5 level during March 2017, the seasonally adjusted Triple I allows less room for disappointment as it has increased to 104.2 from 99.1 during the previous month. This indicates, that the decline is on account of seasonal factors than underlying weakness. The former series, though, remains significant since the quarterly GCF print is on an nsa basis. 

India investment index
 
To know more about the index, write into manika.premsingh@orbiseconomics.com



Economist's art on Modi's India

Unlike Modi covers in the past, which show his photographs, the latest Economist cover story on the PM has a a very interesting illustration. A careful look at it reveals much. 
For one, PM Modi has a distinct air of former PM Singh. From the tired expression to the relatively slight physique. Given the challenges that India presents at any point of time, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Economist detected something of Singh weariness in Modi. Barring of course, the possibility that their information was not updated for India PM and half way through illustrating they realised - oh damn, different guy! Unlikely, but a fun thought.

India Macro Weekly: Real economy improves, FM supports multilateralism




 For the fortnight ended May 6, 2017:

  • It was surprisingly quiet fortnight on the India data front, with only two major data points having been released: Sectoral deployment of credit and Core industry growth. Both indicators show relatively healthy trends.
  • Credit growth stood at 7.4% in March 2017, still soft compared to the corresponding period of the previous year but improved from the previous months. A sharp spike in credit to the services sector buoyed growth, while personal loans’ growth continued to be strong as well.
  • Core industries’ growth came in at its sharpest in 3 months of 5% in March 2017. Five of the 8 segments showed positive growth, while the remaining 3 showed a decline in output from the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • At the Plenary Meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank and the IMF, the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, called for a bigger and better bank. He touched upon the need for increased commitments from the group, a more representative share of developing countries in the group and India’s need for support on turning the demographic advantage into a true dividend.
  • The latest numbers for the Orbis Economics Exchange Rate Index showed that despite some neutralisation in base to 2016-17 in the new financial year (2017-18), the GBP still remains the most depreciated major currency against the INR.

Know more about subscription to the full report - India Macro Weekly – by writing into manika.premsingh@orbiseconomics.com

India Macro Weekly: Liquidity drives RBI's monetary policy


For the week ending April 8, 2017:

  • RBI’s first monetary policy for 2017-2018 was the highlight event. While the central bank kept the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.25%, signaling no change to systemic lending rates; it did increase the reverse repo rate to 6%. In line with the liquidity overhang in the system, the increase in reverse repo rate will further assist in sucking out excess liquidity from the system, at least partly brought on by the demonetisation drive.
  • The central bank also released a slew of survey results, which gave more bad news than good. Capacity utilisation declined in Q3, FY17 from the previous quarter, indicating a continuing slackness in demand, which does not bode well for India’s investment cycle. Even though this was partly explained by a drawing down in inventories, the increase in raw material to sales ratio does not indicate a robust demand future either.
  • Consumer confidence delivered a shocker, with the current situation index actually falling into pessimistic territory and future expectations also declining quite a bit. Consumers expect both overall economic conditions and price levels to be unfavourable to them in the future.
  • However, businesses are feeling somewhat more positive, with an improvement in business expectations on account of overall conditions.
  • The Macro Meter rating remained unchanged as consumer and business confidence switched ratings.