New Delhi: India's overall inflation rate, which has remained near the double-digit mark since December, 2010, is likely to fall sharply to 6.5 percent this month and stay "low" until 2013, says a report.
    
Contrary to many forecasters, global financial services major Credit Suisse envisages wholesale price index (WPI) inflation to drop to 6.5 percent by January, below the estimate floated by the RBI, and is likely to remain there until the April-June quarter.
    
After the second quarter of this calender year, WPI is likely to "further fall to below 6 percent to come through. Contrary to the view of many forecasters, we expect WPI inflation to remain below 6 percent until 2013," the report by Credit Suisse said.
    
Even though food inflation has turned negative, overall inflation -- which also factors in manufactured products, fuel and non-food primary items -- has remained near double digit since December, 2010.
    
As per official data, food products witnessed 3.36 percent deflation during the week ended December 24. The headline inflation numbers for December will be available next week. The rate of price rise stood at 9.11 percent in November.
    
The RBI, which is scheduled to come out with its third quarterly monetary policy review on January 24, has already hiked interest rates 13 times since March, 2010, to tame inflation.
    
Credit Suisse, however, believes the central bank is likely to cut rates only in March.
    
"Coupled with a sustained period of sub-7 percent growth, the RBI is likely to cut rates from March. We look for at least 125 bps of repo rate reductions in 2012/13," the report said.
    
The report noted that speculation on the impact the depreciating rupee will have on inflation is highly overdone, as commodity prices are falling.
    
The Indian rupee has depreciated by 15 percent against the US dollar since the end of July, while the Korean won -- the second weakest Asian currency -- fell by 9 percent during the same period and China's renminbi appreciated by 1 percent.
    
What really matters to Indian WPI inflation is the percentage year-on-year change in rupee-denominated international commodity prices, which is falling, the report said and noted, "The risks to the headline WPI rate are on the downside."
    
With economic activity expected to continue to disappoint for a while longer, the RBI is expected to lower the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) in March, with the first repo rate reduction coming in April, Credit Suisse said.  "If anything, the risk is that the action starts sooner rather than later, while it may be that our current call of 125 bps in rate cuts during the 2012/13 fiscal year as a whole is also a touch on the conservative side," Credit Suisse said.
    
After robust 8.5 percent growth last fiscal, India's GDP growth rate slipped to 6.9 percent in the second quarter this fiscal, while the index of industrial production contracted by 5.1 percent in October.

(Agencies)