* Jump in inflation likely to add to gov't, c.bank tensions
* India wholesale prices likely rose 7.96 pct in October
* Other data dash hopes for quick economic rebound
* For full poll data click on
* Data due on Wednesday, Nov 14, around 0600 GMT
By Ruby Cherian
BANGALORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) - India's inflation probably
accelerated to an 11-month high in October, likely adding to
growing tensions between the government and central bank as the
economy looks set for its slowest growth in a decade.
Dismal trade data on Monday and a surprise contraction in
industrial production dashed hopes that the economy was
regaining traction, and will likely heap more pressure on the
government to boost growth by fast-tracking stalled reforms.
It is also likely to bolster calls from the government and
business leaders for the central bank to cut interest rates.
But the central bank has so far rejected those calls, saying
prices are still rising too fast to risk loosening policy.
A Reuters poll of 27 economists this week showed they expect
wholesale prices rose an annual 7.96 percent in
October, compared with 7.81 percent in September. Forecasts
ranged from 7.40 percent to as high as 8.20 percent. The data is
due around 0600 GMT on Wednesday.
A hike in government-regulated fuel prices and ensuing
higher transportation prices also significantly raised food
prices, the poll showed.
Most economists expect inflation to remain high before
cooling off a bit early next year.
"The trajectory on inflation from here on is higher until
December and then probably it will ease to 7.5 percent by March.
That kind of a headline inflation will not give comfort to RBI
to cut," said Yuvika Oberoi, an economist at Yes Bank.
Volatile fuel and food prices make up more than a third of
the wholesale price index, India's main inflation gauge, which
has stayed above 7 percent in each month since late 2009, well
above the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) perceived comfort level
of around 4-5 percent.
The government hiked prices of heavily subsidised diesel in
mid-September in an attempt to cut its ballooning fiscal deficit
and avoid losing its investment grade credit rating.
"The diesel price hikes may not have fully come through in
the last month's inflation figure ... we were looking for fuel
price inflation to add about 0.7 percentage points," said Vishnu
Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank in Singapore.
RATE CUT PRESSURE
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told Reuters earlier this
month that growth this financial year could be as low as 5.5
percent, the slowest rate of expansion since 2002/03.
Investors, companies and the government have clamoured for a
cut in interest rates to boost flagging activity but the RBI has
held its repo rate at 8 percent, one of the highest in Asia,
since April even as many other central banks cut rates.
At its meeting on Oct. 30, the RBI cut its cash reserve
ratio for banks which is expected to inject 175 billion rupees
($3.21 billion) into the banking system.
But in an unusual move, Governor Duvvuri Subbarao gave
fairly explicit policy guidance, saying the central bank might
ease policy in January to March, the final quarter of the fiscal
year, when it expects inflation to moderate somewhat.
But Yes Bank's Oberoi added that she does not see a respite
in inflation going into next year when, according to a
conservative estimate, it will average around 6-7 percent.
Last month, the government announced additional steps
including spending cuts, a move perceived to be an olive branch
to the RBI.
The central bank has in the past criticised the government's
expansive fiscal policy, which it said undermined the battle
against inflation and lowered growth prospects. It had set out
fiscal consolidation as a pre-condition to lower interest rates.
Chidambaram'argues that monetary policy has limitations in an
emerging economy such as India that needs to borrow to fund
investment and social development. He says policymakers must
learn to live with some inflation.
The government is trying hard to get the economy back on
track to bolster its re-election bid in 2014. An economic
revival would help him generate resources to fund his big-ticket
welfare programmes meant for its core constituency comprising
poor and rural voters and mitigate anger at rising prices.
($1 = 54.56 rupees)
(Polling by Shaloo Shrivastava; Editing by Ross Finley & Kim