The buzz indicates Indian shares will consolidate this week as investors tread cautiously, taking cues from economic data and the central bank's scheduled rate decision on Friday.
With economic turbulence in the western world setting off alarm bells in much of Asia, policymakers in New Delhi are veering to the view the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — the world's most aggressive central bank that has raised rates 11 times over 16 months — needs to pause.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the influential deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, have aired the government's thinking, accepting that the long running monetary tightening policy could cause more harm than good especially with the world economy in the doldrums.
On Thursday, central banks in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea held interest rates, citing the grim global economic outlook.
However, RBI officials are sticking to their hawkish stance, saying stamping out inflation pressures remains the prime objective. Minutes of the previous policy meeting in July showed the Governor D. Subbarao overruled the majority view for a quarter-point increase or pause and decided to raise rates by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points.
"This is not the time to put up speed bumps when the economy is slowing rapidly," said equity salesman Ramnik Dalal. "The uncertainty on the rates is a major hurdle for the markets to hold on to gains."
The top-30 Sensex pared gains to 0.3 per cent last week after a 1.9 per cent slide on Friday due to the cloudy rates outlook.
Car sales in August fell 10.1 per cent, falling for the second consecutive month, as high borrowing costs and steep increases in the prices of vehicle and fuel took a toll. The trend is unlikely to change despite the coming festive season in October because of the high rates.
Industrial output data for July due tomorrow is expected to show a sharp slowdown in the annual growth rate to around six per cent, compared with a double-digit rise a year earlier. August inflation will be released two days later and this should remain above nine per cent.
The data will be crucial for the RBI to make its call. Dalal said a rate rise would briefly push the market down, but there would be value buying in the coming weeks as foreign funds move in from recession-threatened US and Europe.
The gloomy global economy could spell trouble for exports that have been booming for more than a year.