Markets declined by 2.4% amidst anaemic domestic flows with redemptions picking up & FII outflows.
Oil & Gas, Banks and Media have been the laggards while Auto & IT have been the frontrunner sectors.
The INR appreciated against USD in January after slight depreciation in the previous month. It averaged
around 81.9 with a monthly best and worst of 81.1 and 82.9 respectively. 10y benchmark yields traded
in the range of 7.29%-7.40% and eventually ended the month 1bp higher sequentially at 7.34%. The 10y
benchmark averaged 7.33% in January.
At 6.5% yoy, US recorded its lowest inflation in 13 months, while prices contracted sequentially for the
first time since May’20 due to falling fuel prices. Core inflation moderated further from 6% in November
to 5.7% in December. Services-ex shelter, a leading indicator of US inflation as it represents services
wage growth, increased by 0.4% sequentially after remaining flat for 2 months. It remains a major upside
risk to inflation as it indicates that high wage growth continues to persist. In line with consensus, the
Fed slowed down its policy rate hike to 50bps in early February. FOMC continued to remain hawkish as
they have suggested further rate hikes. EU and UK witnessed their inflation fall for the second month
in a row but it remains at 9.2% & 10.5% respectively. In line with expectations, ECB and Bank of England
have undertaken a 50bps rate hike in early February. While ECB has stated that another 50bps hike would
be under undertaken in March, BOE may now undertake smaller rate hikes in the near term. Only clear
indication of inflation moving towards mandated target will allow central banks to slow down on their
policy rate hikes or pivot. IMF has increased USA’s GDP projections for 2023 by 40bps but has slashed it
for other advanced economies such as Eurozone and UK, with the latter projected to undergo a recession
during the current year.
High frequency indicators suggests domestic consumption continues to remain resilient as represented
by GST collections, which was recorded at a 9 month high. PMI data indicates a slowdown in production
due to moderating exports but strong domestic demand continues to help manufacturing sector stay
resilient and in the expansion zone. In its economic survey, government has projected a 6-6.8% GDP
growth in FY24. CPI inflation further eased to 5.7% in December’22 as food prices contracted by 1.2%
sequentially. While vegetable prices has been driving the food prices down, cereal & milk inflation continue
to inch upward. Similarly, core inflation at 6.1%, remains sticky and trends above the MPC’s inflation
targeting upper tolerance limit of 6%. With the MPC set to meet in early February, consensus expects a
repo rate hike of 25bps taking the policy rate to 6.5%. Government continues to rein in the fiscal deficit
whilst it maintains strong capex numbers. By end of December, government had already achieved 65% of
its budgeted capex driven by railways and roads as both sectors have achieved 90% & 80% respectively
of their BE. With 80% of tax revenues achieved, government’s fiscal deficit has been just 59% of the BE. In
the recently presented Union budget, government has announced a 37% increase in capex driven by road
& railway sector. It is continuing on its fiscal consolidation path as Fiscal deficit is projected to fall from
6.4% in FY23 to 5.9% in FY24.
Brent crude prices increased from an average of USD 81.6/bbl in December to USD 83.9 in January as
demand expectations have increased, given that China, the second largest crude oil consumer has bid
farewell to its zero – covid policy. Gold prices ended higher at USD 1,924/oz in December from USD 1,814/
oz in November.