Fitch ups India growth forecast to 7.4% for FY19

Fitch Ratings on Wednesday raised India's economic growth forecast to 7.4 per cent for 2018-19 but cited higher finance costs and rising oil prices as risks. It also said the rupee has been am­ong the worst performers vis-à-vis Asian currencies this year.

The global credit rating agency had earlier estimated the GDP (gross domestic pr­o­duct) growth at 7.3 per ce­nt for current financial year. For 2019-20, it projected the growth at 7.5 per cent.

Fitch forecast global oil price to remain around $70 per barrel in 2018, up from $54.9 a barrel last year. It said it expects oil price to cool to $65 a barrel next year.

“We have revised up our forecast for 2018-19 growth to 7.4 per cent from 7.3 per cent in March. However, hi­gher financing costs (stemming from monetary tightening and higher market premiums) and rising oil prices should limit the upside to growth,” Fitch said in its global economic outlook.

The Indian economy grew at 6.7 per cent in 2017-18. In the fourth quarter (January-March) the GDP grew at 7.7 per cent.

Fitch said the Indian rup­ee has been one of the worst performing currencies in Asia this year, although the depreciation was more mut­ed than during the 2013 taper-tantrum episode. “In­dia has better macroecono­mic fundamentals th­an in 2013 and very low foreign ownership rates in the dom­estic government bond market, but the current account deficit has been wid­ening as a result of rising oil prices, reviving domestic demand and poor manufacturing export performance,” it said.

Last month, US-based Moody’s cut India’s growth forecast for 2018-19 to 7.3 per cent from 7.5 per cent citing rising oil prices.

Fitch said inflation has picked up since mid-2017, despite food inflation being muted. “The rise in the oil price and the rupee depreciation should add to price pressure in the coming mo­nths, although we expect inflation to be contained within the upper band of the RBI’s target range,” it said.

Fitch projected retail inflation to be 5 per cent by the end of 2018. RBI earlier this week hiked its policy rate by 0.25 per cent, citing inflation risks.

Fitch retained the global growth forecast at 3.3 per cent in 2018 and 3.2 per cent for 2019, reflecting the disappointment over distribution of growth, with shortfalls in a number of smaller economies. It said expansion will be on-track or slightly better in the world’s two largest economies – the US and China.