Declining price of vegetables pulled down inflation to over three-year low of 5.96 per cent in March, which may prompt the Reserve Bank to consider a rate cut in its annual monetary policy next month. Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) stood at 6.84 per cent in February. In March, 2012, it was 7.69 per cent. The 5.96 per cent March-end inflation is much lower than Reserve Bank's projection of 6.8 per cent.

The decline in inflation and a slowdown in industrial output growth to 0.6 per cent in February has raised expectations of a rate cut by RBI next month to boost growth. The RBI will announce its annual monetary policy on May 3. As per official data released today, inflation in the manufactured items category witnessed a marginal decline at 4.07 per cent in March. It was 4.51 per cent in February. Inflation in food articles category, which has a 14.34 per cent share in the WPI basket, too declined to 8.73 per cent. Inflation in this category was at 11.38 per cent in February. The easing in food inflation was helped by a sharp drop in prices of vegetables. Inflation in vegetables stood (-)0.95 per cent in March, from 12.11 per cent in the previous month. The rate of price rise in onion stood at 94.85 per cent for the month of March, as against the inflation rate of 154.33 per cent in February. Inflation in rice eased to 17.90 per cent in March, as against 18.84 per cent in the previous month. Inflation for January was revised upwards to 7.31 per cent, from 6.62 per cent as per provisional estimates.


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GOLD FLAKE BURNS FINGERDiversified group ITC Ltd today said it has increased prices of its Gold Flake cigarette brand by over 7 per cent. The price of Gold Flake Filter pack consisting of 10 cigarettes will now cost Rs 59 from Rs 55 earlier. Likewise, Gold Flake Premium Filter cigarette will cost Rs 58, up from Rs 55 earlier. When contacted, a company spokesperson confirmed the hike in prices. ITC, which is the market leader in cigarettes in India, sells various brands including India Kings, Classic Gold Flake, Navy Cut among others. The company's cigarettes business grew by 11.48 per cent to Rs 3,623.23 crore during the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2013, compared to Rs 3,249.88 crore in the same period of previous fiscal. ITC produces cigarettes at manufacturing plants located in Bengaluru, Munger, Saharanpur, Kolkata and Pune. Besides FMCG, ITC has interests hotels, paperboards and packaging, tobacco products and information technology. Net sales of the company rose to Rs 29,605.58 crore for the year ended March 31, 2013, compared to Rs 24,798.43 crore in the 2011-12 financial year. Shares of ITC today closed at Rs 338.50 on the BSE, up 3.74 per cent from its previous close.


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