India refrains from another rate cut

RBI stands pat on interest rates, what's next?
RBI stands pat on interest rates, what's next?   

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opted to refrain from further monetary easing, after surprising markets with a mid-January rate cut.

The RBI on Tuesday kept its key repo rate at 7.75 percent, after lowering rates by a quarter-point three weeks ago.

The decision was widely expected on the basis of no new data on India's inflationary environment since the last central bank meeting. Many analysts also expected the central bank to wait for the release of the budget due end of February to gauge the government's commitment to fiscal consolidation and reforms.

Instead, the Reserve Bank of India cut the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) - or the amount of bonds that lenders must set aside - by 50 basis points to 21.5 percent of deposits from the two-week cycle starting on Feb. 7 in a bid to spur banks to inject more credit into the economy.

Indranil Mukherjee | AFP | Getty Images

The Nifty index turned negative on the news, slipping 0.3 percent, while the Indian rupee trimmed gains to 61.74 per dollar.

"I think the RBI's decision was expected. The key dynamic we've seen in India was that it was the first central bank to take advantage of the dis-inflationary dynamic and to take the policy to a more accommodative setting," said Glenn Maguire, chief economist, Asia Pacific at ANZ.

"Going forward, the RBI has indicated a return to an on-calendar schedule for policy adjustments and we need to look at the two arms of policy are doing. We have already seen one ease, the union budget will give us some hint on the fiscal policy," he added.

— Reuters contributed to this story