Retail inflation, based on Consumer price index (CPI), was at 5.07 percent in January.
While cheaper food articles and lower cost for fuel pushed consumer inflation lower, industrial output spurted due to a good show by manufacturing coupled with higher offtake of consumer and capital goods. While the manufacturing sector grew 8.7% in January, compared with 2.5% in the same month past year, capital goods grew 14.6% and consumer non-durables 10.5% in the month under review. However, the mining sector saw a flat growth of 0.1 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent a year ago. However, the core CPI inflation rose marginally to 5.04% in February 2018 compared with 5.00% in January 2018.
The cumulative IIP growth for the April-January period of the current fiscal, at 4.1 per cent, was lower than the 5 per cent posted in same period of 2016-17. The price of vegetables has risen by 17.57% in February compared to the corresponding period in 2017 while the price of eggs rose 8.51%, and that of milk and related products increased 3.83%.
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In January, apparel played a major role in boosting inflation, with the biggest rise in prices in about 28 years.
Though it will give comfort to the Centre that had been under pressure after demonetisation, implementation of Goods and Services Tax and the Punjab National Bank scam, experts expect the Reserve Bank of India to maintain a status quo on rates.
"This easing appears to have come largely on the back of a slowdown in the food price inflation on account of one-off seasonal factors", Richa Gupta, senior economist and senior director, Deloitte India said.
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In February, consumer food price index softened to 3.26 per cent as against 4.7 per cent in January. In all 16 out of 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed growth in January.
Besides, industry bodies yet again nudged the RBI to lower interest rate as retail inflation fell to a 4-month low of 4.44 percent in February.
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