MUMBAI: Vendors wait for customers in a wholesale market at a fish harbour on Friday.—Reuters
MUMBAI: Vendors wait for customers in a wholesale market at a fish harbour on Friday.—Reuters

BENGALURU: Moo­dy’s Inves­t­ors Service cut India’s ratings outlook to “negative” from “stable”, citing increasing risks that Asia’s third largest economy will grow at a slower pace than in the past, sending stock markets nearly 1 per cent lower at Friday’s close.

However, Moody’s retained the country’s foreign and local currency ratings at ‘Baa2’.

The cut in outlook partly reflected government and policy ineffectiveness in addressing economic weakness, which has led to an increase in debt burden, Moody’s said.

The ratings agency also cut its outlook for 21 Indian companies, including State Bank of India, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Infosys Ltd and NTPC Ltd to “negative” from “stable”.

India’s economy grew 5pc year-on-year between April and June, its weakest pace since 2013, which had prompted a slew of interest rate cuts by the central bank and forcing the government to cut corporate taxes sharply.

Moody’s now expects a government deficit of 3.7pc of GDP in the fiscal year ending in March 2020, compared with a government target of 3.3pc.

“The depth and duration of India’s growth slowdown, prolonged financial stress among rural households, weak job creation, and, more recently, a credit crunch among non-bank financial institutions have increased the probability of a more entrenched slowdown,” Moody’s said.

The ratings agency said it does not expect the credit crunch among non-bank financial institutions to be resolved quickly.

In response, the finance ministry said the economy’s fundamentals remained “quite robust”.

“India continues to be among the fastest growing major economies in the world, India’s relative standing remains unaffected,” the ministry said in a statement.

However, Indian bourses inched lower, with the broader Nifty 50 index closing down 0.86pc. The rupee weakened to 71.25 against the dollar by 1019 GMT, versus Thursday’s close of 70.965.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019

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