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RBI monetary policy: Central bank's decision to cut rate by 35 bps a bold step; move will accelerate slowing economy: Experts

FP Staff

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut interest rates by an unconventional 35 basis points on Wednesday, slightly above expectations, and its fourth cut in 2019 to boost an economy growing at its slowest pace in nearly five years.

The RBI maintained its "accommodative" stance but said further rate reductions would depend on the level of inflation.

Here is a look at the experts' view on the central bank's fourth rate cut in a row and how it is going to impact the economy.

Rohit Poddar, MD, Poddar Housing and Development, Mumbai

"This is a welcome move by the RBI as growth has totally stagnated. In fact, there is deflation in several sectors. The RBI has cut the rate on the backdrop of evolving growth-inflation dynamics with the objective to fill the output growth gaps. Raising banks' exposure limit to single NBFC is a prudent structural development."

"Banks' lending to registered NBFCs for housing up to 20 lakh rupees per borrower is positive news for the real-estate sector. Transmission of the rate cuts to borrowers is important as wielding scissors on repo rate alone will not be enough. Additional interventions will also be required to try and provide a boost to the economy."

Lakshmi Iyer, chief investment officer (debt) & head products, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company

"The RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) departed from the conventional rate action of 25 bps and its multiples and announced a 35 bps cut in repos rate. The accommodation in stance continues. The sluggish global economy, the fact that world over central bankers are easing rates, and of course our economy also faces growth headwinds were among the key reasons that can be attributed to the rate cut."

"There seems to be a fervour to maintain comfortable liquidity in the banking system, which should be an additional support factor for bond yields, apart from cut in benchmark rates. Going forward, the quantum and timing of rate actions (read cut as we are in accommodative stance) would be largely data dependent. With today's rate action, we have seen a cumulative rate reduction of 105 bps, and it is imperative to see this impact percolate to the real sector."

Devendra Pant, chief economist, India Ratings, New Delhi

"The rate cut can't be called unconventional. The slightly higher-than-expected rate cut shows that there is a need for rate cuts, but the decision gives the impression that expectations of a 50 bp cut maybe too high."

"Ultimately, it will depend on how the transmission takes place. The policy even talks about the combined impact of 75 bp before this; it says overall banks reduced their weighted average lending rate by 29 bp on fresh rupee during the current easing phase so far."

"Banks are cutting on deposit rates and from whatever they are borrowing from the markets too. There will be some impact on cost of borrowing. The impact of this 35 bp cut maybe felt with a lag, it will take sometime to see its impact."

Sakshi Gupta, economist, HDFC Bank, Gurugram

"The cut of 35 bps is a deviation from the convention of changing rates in multiples of 25 bp. The central bank recognises the risks to growth and consequently lowered their growth forecast."

"Their projections for H2 still seem a bit optimistic. We expect the GDP growth at 6.7-6.8 percent for FY20. Given that growth could continue to slow and inflation readings remain contained, there is room for more rate cuts this year."

"It was disappointing to see little clarity on whether the current liquidity situation will continue under the new liquidity management framework. The recent improvement in the liquidity situation is likely to improve transmission in the coming months."

"This policy is likely to be broadly neutral as expectations of a 50 bp cut were partly baked in. The big mover for the yields will now be any development on the sovereign bond issuance."

K V Srinivasan, CEO, Profectus Capital

"The rate cut by the RBI of 35 bps and the accommodative stance is welcome. It clearly indicates that the system is flush with liquidity. The liberalisation of single borrower limits on NBFC exposures as well as according priority sector tag to loans for onlending by NBFCs are steps in the right direction and clearly signal the RBI's confidence in the sector."

"The key onus is now on banks to pass on the rate reduction to borrowers and encourage capital goods purchase and to resume lending to the NBFC sector without being overly risk-averse. Resumption of NBFC loans will ease the current issues the automobile, consumer goods and MSME sector are facing and ensure flow of credit to the deserving but under-served sectors."

Aditi Nayar, economist, ICRA, Gurugram

File image of RBI governor Shaktikanta Das. Reuters

File image of RBI governor Shaktikanta Das. Reuters

"The unconventional 35 bps rate cut is a clear signal that increasing evidence of a pervasive slowdown in economic growth has emerged as the MPC's chief concern, given that it expects inflation to remain under its medium-term target."

"While the stance was maintained as accommodative and the tone of the outlook was dovish, we expect that incremental data will crucially guide the MPC's decisions on additional rate cuts. The focus will now shift to improving transmission to bank lending rates, with the systemic liquidity surplus in excess of 1 percent of NDTL."

Radhika Rao, economist, DBS Bank, Singapore

"Factoring in a downward revision to growth projection and inflation expected to stay sub-target in early 2020 back the central bank's dovish bias. Indian benchmark rate cuts have been frontloaded and fallen by the most (110 bps) among Asian peers and hence the committee will prefer to be data-dependent going forward."

"With softness in incoming data, we retain our call for another 25 bp cut, likely in the next quarter. While the irregular quantum of cut surprised most, this was likely a signal that policymakers wished to do more than the routine quarter percent and hence reinforce their bias."

Pushkar Mukewar, co-founder and co-CEO of Drip Capital, a US and India based trade finance firm

"The Reserve Bank of India's decision to cut policy rates by 35 basis points sends out a clear signal that reviving growth is a priority. The RBI's move is in line with central banks across the world easing monetary policy. While the announcement is unlikely to impact the weakening rupee, the RBI governor has made it clear that the bank will take care of currency volatility. It is important to wait to see what measures the central bank will take in view of the weakening yuan and the trade war between China and the US."

"The downward revision in real GDP from 7 percent to 6.9 percent is likely to affect the short-term sentiment in the markets. Increasing flows to NBFCs will boost credit availability, which in turn is good news for the MSME sector and exporters of all verticals."

Shilan Shah, senior India economist, Capital Economics, Singapore

"The RBI's forecast for GDP growth this year has been lowered a touch with "risks somewhat tilted to the downside". Meanwhile, the official policy stance remains "accommodative", suggesting that further loosening will follow in the near term."

"But we maintain our view that aggressive loosening will be a mistake. The GDP data are riddled with problems. Soft surveys show that spare capacity is still tight and core inflation is likely to rise over the coming months as earlier monetary loosening and expansionary fiscal measures in the union budget take effect."

"With a growing perception that the RBI's credibility as an inflation fighter is being eroded €" heightened by the surprise resignation of Viral Acharya from the MPC a few weeks ago €" further policy loosening raises the risk of inflation rebounding and ultimately requiring higher interest rates over the longer term."

Amar Ambani, president and head of research, Yes Securities, Mumbai

"The unconventional 35 bps cut should have been seen coming, after the RBI's statement in its last policy meet to do away with 25 bp norm. Equities, however, haven't risen after the policy announcement, as a 50 bp cut was priced in the market."

"Going forward, we do believe that scope for another 25 bp cut is available to the MPC in 2019 itself. Clearly, supporting growth, which has risks to further downside, will be top of the agenda in a benign inflation environment."

Ramesh Nair, CEO and country head, JLL India

"In line with the general market sentiment, the cumulative 110 bps rate cut in the last four policy reviews favours the Indian economy. The rate cut of 35 bps delivered by the RBI is likely to bring in a balance between growth and inflation. Riding along the same track, the real estate sector too will gain momentum owing to favorable policy reforms. However, the growth shall also depend on whether there is a proportional transmission of rate cuts to the end consumer."

"The rate cut has a direct bearing on the real estate sector considering that residential sales rely to a large extent on the availability of credit in the form of home loans and buyer sentiment. The improved market sentiments due to the tax deduction schemes, modified tenancy laws, focus on the implementation of PMAY, investment in infrastructure announced in the Union Budget 2019-20 coupled with interest rate deductions is likely to boost sales in the residential segment. Moreover, credit re-structuring measures such as the introduction of repo-linked loans by select banks will positively impact the homebuyers' purchase decisions while ensuring enhanced transparency."

Rajesh Sharma, managing director, Capri Global Capital

"We welcome the rate cut from RBI, which is on expected lines. We hope that the transmission of this rate cut happens to the borrowers at the earliest. What further underscores RBI's commitment and faith in NBFCs is now treating the NBFCs on par with other sectors in terms of single party exposure for Banks. Further, the move to classify on-lending through NBFCs to Agriculture, MSMEs and Housing loans up to INR 20 Lakhs will certainly act as a big booster for the sector. I am sure the sluggish credit flow to NBFCs off late, will definitely catch some pace."

Suvodeep Rakshit, senior economist, Kotak Institutional Equities, Mumbai

"The 35 bp rate cut should be seen as a signal that the Reserve Bank of India's MPC is quite concerned with the growth outlook beyond the usual 25 bp rate cut in a business-as-usual scenario, even though it does not reflect in the revised FY2020 GDP growth estimate."

"The RBI MPC did not necessarily want to deliver a 50 bp rate cut, and hence, retains the scope to reduce rates further. With inflation expected to remain benign, and further downside to growth outlook, we see scope for 25-50 bp of further rate cuts through FY2020."

"Transmission to lending rates will likely remain weak unless there is a clear visibility of adequate liquidity sustaining over the medium-term."

Dinesh Rohira, founder and CEO, 5nance.com

"The RBI has taken a middle ground where markets were expecting a 25bps to 50bps rate cut. The 10 year GSEC yields have immediately remained stable, steepening the yield curve. The GDP growth target has been reduced to 6.9 percent from 7 percent, hence growth is now the highest priority as per commentary. Inflation is targeted at 4 percent, the numbers are well below the target. NBFCs have been given a liquidity boost, banks can now take exposure of 20 percent of their Tier-I capital in one NBFC from 15 percent. NBFCs can now on-lend to the priority sector through banks."

"This will bring liquidity stimulus to the NBFC/HFC space, the abundance of liquidity provided by RBI needs to transmitted and absorbed in the system. There is a cyclical demand and investment slowdown, expansionary credit growth can change this downward trend. A steeper yield curve also incentivizes future growth".

Surendra Hiranandani, CMD, House of Hiranandani

"We definitely welcome this move which will lift industry sentiments. The real estate sector has been looking forward to such initiatives to boost sales. It will support growth and ease the liquidity crunch in the economy. We hope that the current rate cut would translate into lower EMIs and help soften home loan rates and also boost sales. It will help to ease the pressure off the market by attracting buyers to invest in the real estate sector. Real estate sector is one of the few sectors which have the potential to kick start a sluggish economy. The forthcoming festive season will further boost real estate sector."

"A wave of next-gen reforms has set the stage for years of high growth for the real estate sector. Wednesday's rate cut of 35 bps is yet another initiative that is propelling real estate sector on a new growth trajectory. It has been observed that, despite the reduction in repo rates by the RBI in the previous reviews, it did not have any significant impact on lending rates. Going forward, it is imperative for banks to reduce the lending rates and ensure that the home loan borrowers reap the benefits of this move."

"Real estate being a highly cost-sensitive sector, demand will only pick up if the cut is substantial to result in significant cost savings. The rate reduction will also provide the much-needed stimulus to build upon the various initiatives announced by the Government recently about reviving the demand in the realty sector. This will also bring back fence-sitters who were waiting for the perfect opportunity to invest in their dream home. We are sure to see the positive upturn in the sector."

"On the whole, this rate cut along with various other reforms announced recently is expected to cheer up developers as well as buyers in the real estate sector."

Suraj Kaeley, senior adviser, FundsIndia 

"There has been a significant slowdown in the Indian economy. It was widely expected that the RBI would cut rates to stimulate growth. Further, global interest rates are going down and there is no immediate threat on the inflation front. We welcome this move and hope that rate transmission happens at a faster pace."

Sampath Reddy, chief investment officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance

"The RBI cut policy rates by 35 bps, with all MPC members unanimously voting for a rate cut (4 members for 35 bps cut and 2 members for 25 bps cut). As expected, with inflation being in control, the RBI's focus has shifted to addressing the recent slowdown in macro-economic environment. Also, measures have been taken to address the ongoing stress in the NBFC sector, with bank's exposure limit to a single NBFC being increased to 20 percent of Tier 1 capital from 15 percent previously, and a reduction in the risk weighting for consumer credit."

"The RBI's focus is on reviving private investment, and transmission of the policy rates would help to bring down cost of capital for corporates and aid to revive the investment cycle. The central bank said that benign inflation outlook provides headroom for policy action to close the negative output gap€"indicating a continued environment of easy monetary policy. From an investment perspective, we presently prefer the shorter end of the yield curve, as we feel that markets have largely discounted a large part of rate easing cycle."

Joseph Thomas, head research, Emkay Wealth Management, Mumbai

"The RBI policy, especially the repo rate cut of 35 bp, takes cognizance of the need to bring down interest cost on liquidity and credit, to support the sluggish economic growth and to stimulate aggregate demand."

"The success of this accommodative policy would depend entirely on the next level of its application, that is, the transmission of lower rates to the ultimate borrowers. The banks seem to be seized of this need and effective cascading of the benefits of lower base rate may happen over the next few months."

Amit B Wadhwani, co-founder, SECCPL

"The current repo rate cut, along with the downward revision of GDP growth (2019-2020) from 7 percent to 6.9 percent, will surely improve the confidence of homebuyers, encouraging them to opt for home loans, as banks will have higher room to transmit the rates, in the form of cheaper loans. We believe that more banks will practice the revised rates, while lending. This will help sell the inventories at a faster pace, and it will also encourage developers for new launches. With this policy, the RBI and the Government are providing a boost to economic growth, through a fiscal and monetary impact."

R K Gurumurthy, head-treasury, Lakshmi Vilas Bank

"RBI cuts key repo rate by 35 basis points, in line with expectations. However, the quantum of cut i.e 35 basis points, is an unconventional first and could soon be the order. The global economic backdrop where rate cuts and a reversal to a QE regime seem the more preferred path, today's rate decision seems most timely. Stance has been maintained as "accommodative" with liquidity expected to be in an enduring surplus mode, inflation expectations are benign and GDP Growth has been lowered by 10 basis."

"The rate cut was supported by an overwhelming majority with 4 of the 6 members voting for a 35 basis cut with the two others, for a 25 basis cut. The key takeaway is that a 25 basis cut was considered as inadequate €" which endorses the fact that growth concerns have moved to the forefront and trajectory of the rate curve in the coming quarters will dovetail economic data, especially on growth. Measures to improve credit flow to NBFCs, unsecured borrowers and Priority Sectors with lowering of risk weight will complement the overall stance of adequate liquidity and lower rates. Rate transmission is expected to improve significantly in the coming days. Deposit rates should continue to drift lower."

Anagha Deodhar, economist, ICICI Securities, Mumbai

"I think deviation from the standard practice of changing rates by 25 bp is welcome. In the current situation, 25 bp would have been insufficient and 50 bp would have been too aggressive. Growth and inflation are expected to pick up modestly in H2FY20. We expect inflation to cross 4% in November 2019. Hence, we could expect only one more rate cut this fiscal."

"Banks have already started cutting lending rates. However, the lending rate cuts are much smaller than reduction in repo rate, indicating significant room for transmission."

Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist, L&T Financial Holdings, Mumbai

"The RBI has done the maximum that a central bank can do in the current phase of economic slowdown."

"By significantly revising downwards the GDP growth for H1, FY20, it has signalled the concerns on the growth front. However, the weight of structural factors has increased in India's ongoing slowdown and it is now absolutely essential for the central and state governments to work in partnership to resolve some of the sticky sector-specific issues and concerns."

B Prasanna, head-global markets group, ICICI Bank

"The MPC surprised positively with a 35 bps cut given on the back of a continued growth slowdown. The MPC remains sanguine on inflation with projections up to Q1 FY2021 remaining well under 4 percent while it downgraded GDP forecasts to 6.9 percent with downside bias. The Governor also spoke about the importance of monetary policy transmission and the central bank's support to keep adequate liquidity in the system. Steps to enhance the credit flows to NBFCs and classification of certain sectors to the priority sector lending through NBFC on-lending are also welcome. Going forward, given the rhetoric that supporting private investment remains "highest priority", we do not rule out further accommodation if growth impulses continue to be slow."

Shubhadra Rao, chief economist, Yes Bank, Mumbai

"Welcome the 35 bp rate cut. Growth is likely to be revised down further from 6.9 percent. Given the well-anchored inflation, we believe that the RBI is set to cut rates in the next policy review in October. It could be 15/20 bps also. It is clear that reviving growth has received the most attention."

Rajni Thakur, Economist, RBL Bank

"The monetary policy statement has moved away from its focus on inflation towards growth supportive stance. There is a clear bias for monetary push bearing most of growth stimulation burden to cover the output gap. With 35 bps cut in policy rates, RBI seems to be keen on meeting markets expectations and also stick to its gradualist approach."

"Measures to enhance credit flow to NBFCs should help further ease the worries on liquidity and credit flow in the economy. Any further rate action will likely stay biased towards further cut. But while global developments and its impact on currency were ignored for now, it could potentially emerge as a major consideration in near term rate actions."

Sujan Hajra, chief economist, Anand Rathi Securities, Mumbai

"The 35 bp rate cut is higher than the consensus and our expectation of a 25 bp rate cut. This clearly shows the RBI's concern about growth performance and outlook, and the urgency to take measures to revive growth."

"The real issues, however, are improving monetary policy transmission and reviving the NBFC sector; the policy does not provide any new measures or even perspectives on these areas."

"With 110 bps cumulative rate cuts, banks would be under moral pressure to cut lending rates, which can depress NIM. This is negative for the sector and positive for interest-sensitive sectors."

Ravindra Sudhalkar, ED & CEO, Reliance Home Finance

"The RBI's decision to cut rates by 35 basis point is a positive decision. The move to allow banks to lend to priority sectors, including to housing sector of up to Rs 20 lakh loans, through NBFC arms will kickstart credit flow especially to affordable housing sector. For the consumers to feel the benefit of lower rates, the RBI will now need to step in for accelerating transmission of the rate cut."

Ranjan Chakravarty, product strategy, MSE

Following up from the governor's message delivered to the world in Washington earlier this year, of calibrating rate cuts to India's needs instead of needlessly sticking to global convention, the MPC has delivered a properly calibrated rate cut. A 35 bp cut is exactly appropriate. 25 would have been too soft and 50 wasteful given the strong performance of the monsoon since the previous policy announcement. The market will definitely appreciate this.

Puneet Maheshwari, director, Upstox

"RBI's decision of a 35 basis point rate cut is a welcome move. However, it is a surprising number because this is a departure from the norm of sticking to multiples of 25 for any rate revision. The markets did not immediately react, probably because the fundamentals for the economy still continue to be weak. The prediction of GDP growth accelerating to 7.4 percent by Q1 of the next financial year while the inflation figures remaining contained under 4% is a good news for long term investors."

Narinder Wadhwa, president, Commodity Participants Association of India

"The RBI's decision of a cumulative rate cut for the fourth time in a row was to ease the situation of liquidity tightening in the system. The regulator has retained its accommodative stance, which indicates its willingness to remain flexible till the economic conditions improve. The uptick in gold prices with the rate cut announcement indicates the investors confidence in this traditional asset during uncertainties. The easing of liquidity situation and accelerating transmission of the rate cut to the end consumer will boost investment sentiments in commodities ahead of the festival season."

Kamal Khetan, CMD, Sunteck Realty

The fourth consecutive cut in repo rates shows the urgency of the central bank to give impetus to economic growth. With a view to increase the credit flow to real estate, the RBI's recognition of loans up to Rs. 20 lakhs as Priority Sector Lending would provide support to boost the affordable housing segment. We hope that the benefits are passed on to end-consumer for home loans by the banks, making it easier for them to make their purchase decisions."

Pushkar Mukewar, co-founder and co-CEO, Drip Capital

"The RBI's decision to cut policy rates by 35 basis points sends out a clear signal that reviving growth is a priority. The RBI's move is in line with central banks across the world easing monetary policy. While the announcement is unlikely to impact the weakening rupee, the RBI governor has made it clear that the bank will take care of currency volatility. It is important to wait to see what measures the central bank will take in view of the weakening yuan and the trade war between China and the US. The downward revision in real GDP from 7 percent to 6.9 percent is likely to affect the short-term sentiment in the markets. Increasing flows to NBFCs will boost credit availability, which in turn is good news for the MSME sector and exporters of all verticals.

Rajesh Sharma, MD, Capri Global Capital

"We welcome the rate cut from RBI, which is on expected lines. We hope that the transmission of this rate cut happens to the borrowers at the earliest. What further underscores RBI's commitment and faith in NBFCs is now treating the NBFCs at par with other sectors in terms of single party exposure for Banks. Further, the move to classify on-lending through NBFCs to Agriculture, MSMEs and Housing loans up to INR 20 Lakhs will certainly act as a big booster for the sector. I am sure the sluggish credit flow to NBFCs off late, will definitely catch some pace."

Farshid Cooper, MD, Spenta Corporation, Mumbai

"The fourth straight cut in the repo rate by 35bps addresses growth concerns by boosting demand in private investment while remaining steady with the inflation directive. In order to curb the ongoing NBFC crisis, RBI has further prioritized the housing sector lending to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh per borrower. This move will surely help in uplifting the sector which has been going through a slowdown. Additionally, the rate cut has sent a strong indicator to domestic banks to cut lending rates before the festive season kicks off which might prove to be beneficial to the sector."

Parth Mehta, MD, Paradigm Realty

"The 35 BPS rate cut is a great news tad more than our expectation of 25bps. This shall help faster transmission of rate cuts as already banks are standing with excess liquidity and now will be compelled to Deploy in good assets for which rate cuts benefits need to be passed on in the form of cheaper consumption finance loans linked to auto , home loans, personal loans etc. The credit growth is very important for inducing investment cycles to return back."

"With surplus liquidity in hand and repo rate standing almost 110 bps lower at 5.4 percent from the start of 2019, the transmission of aggressive rate cuts by banks should follow and spur credit growth propelling consumer spending hence bringing back healthier economic growth."

Shishir Baijal, CMD, Knight Frank India

"In light of the present economic distress in the country, we welcome the move to bring down repo rate by 35 bps. However, we would have really expected to see a more substantial cut is the need of the hour for its effective transmission to end-users. While it is the fourth consecutive rate cut this year and is in line with RBI's recent shift to an accommodative monetary policy stance, it may not be sufficient to give the required impetus to the stalling consumption numbers. Of the 75 bps rate cuts thus far, only up to 35 bps have been seemingly transmitted to end-users and with this backdrop, another similar rate revision is not expected to trickle down much."

"Further, after RBI's announcement of a shift in policy stance, markets were already expecting a 25 - bps cut from the August MPC, although the present announcement is only moderately higher than expected. On this backdrop, RBI's 35 bps rate cut is only marginal, more so for the real estate sector. The NBFC liquidity crisis has severely choked credit availability for the industry, especially developers, as they struggle to raise even construction finance. While the limit for priority sector lending for housing has been enhanced from Rs 10 lakhs to 20 lakhs, the scope of this move is limited to affordable housing segment."

"More needs to be done to provide a liquidity stimulus to the broader real estate spectrum. As the threat of a slowdown looms large on the Indian economy, strong measures such as substantial rate cuts and meaningful sector specific policies need to be taken."

Ashok Mohanani, chairman, EKTA World

For the fourth time in a row, the RBI cuts the repo rate, this time by 35 basis points. The RBI has pumped a lot of liquidity into the banking system which should make a clear pledge to keep the banking system glow with liquidity. While the cost of capital is headed lower, we trust future commencement will be in baby steps, motivated by lowering of inflation expectations, a global recession notwithstanding. It will definitely spur growth for the real estate sector specifically."

"There have been many meaningful interventions by the government and regulator which has provided a positive boost to the home buying sentiment among the potential homebuyers. Rate cuts will guarantee affordability in terms of home loans and thus lowered EMI, lower GST, tax discount for the middle class as per as interim budget. Furthermore, we are also hopeful that the financial institutions will reduce the interest rates on construction finance. All this will give some sales momentum to real estate."

Jayant Mehrotra, chief financial officer, Lodha Group

"RBI has announced rate cut by 35 bps, for fourth time in a row this year. This bold step confirms RBIs accommodative stand. This should help revive private investment and provide a much-needed boost to the overall business sentiment, subject to speedy and sufficient transmission by banks. The effective lending rates by banks to corporates and individuals need to meaningfully align to the signal given by the RBI through this policy action."

€" With Reuters inputs

Also See: RBI Monetary Policy August 2019: Governor Shaktikanta Das says will ensure there is sufficient liquidity available for economy

With a 35 bps rate cut bonanza, Reserve Bank of India gifts govt what it has been asking for; what now?

RBI's Monetary Policy Committee meeting starts with expectation of another repo rate cut

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