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The central bank also changed its monetary policy stance to "neutral" from the earlier "calibrated tightening", signalling further softening on its approach towards interest rates.

Das, in his maiden monetary policy review, has moved away from the usual practice of announcement 2:30 pm.

The MPC voted 4:2 in favour of the rate cut, while the decision to change policy stance was unanimous.

India's central bank on Thursday unexpectedly lowered interest rates and, as anticipated, shifted its stance to "neutral" from "calibrated tightening" to boost a slowing economy after a sharp fall in the inflation rate.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday retained the country's gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for FY20 at 7.4 per cent. Addressing the media on Monetary Policy, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said GDP projection for 2019-20 is 7.4 per cent while the inflation rate is estimated at 3.2-3.4 per cent in the first half of the year 2019-20 and 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2019-20. "Investment activity is recovering supported mainly by public spending on infrastructure", RBI Governor said. It was the first policy review by the RBI after appointment of its governor Shaktikanta Das in December a year ago.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is already in election mode.

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If inflation remains muted, Das hinted there is more room to cut rates, sounding a markedly more dovish tone from the central bank.

Emboldened by a slowdown in inflation, the MPC under the new governor showed more concern about economic growth risks, paving the way for more rate cuts. Retail inflation, measured by y-o- y change in the CPI, declined from 3.4 per cent in October 2018 to 2.2 per cent in December, the lowest print in the last 18 months. It also stayed below RBI's inflation target of 4 per cent for five consecutive months.

Deputy Governor Viral Acharya and another MPC member, Chetan Ghate, voted for status quo in interest rates, while Das and three others voted for a cut in interest rates.

The decision "restores growth maximisation as a secondary objective of the RBI". "Both recent history and forward guidance make a compelling case for the rate cut". It expects RBI to deliver another 25 bps rate cut in April.

The NSE Nifty initially slipped but closee up 0.06 percent at 11,069.40 while the 10-year benchmark government bond yield fell to 7.51 percent from Wednesday's close of 7.56 percent.

The rupee weakened to 71.69 to the dollar immediately after the announced but strengthened soon after to 71.42.


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