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India's inflation hits 3-year high, casting doubts over further monetary easing

India's consumer price index advanced further in November, registering the highest annual inflation rate in more than three years and surpassing Reserve Bank of India's target for the second consecutive month.

Annual inflation accelerated to 5.54% last month from 4.62% in October, provisional data from the country's National Statistical Office showed.

The latest reading marks the highest rate since a 6.07% annual increase in consumer prices in July 2016. It also follows a 16-month high inflation rate registered in October.

The rise in inflation was led by a boost in prices of food and beverages at an annual rate of 8.66%. Housing prices went up 4.49%, while fuel and light prices declined 1.93%.

The consumer food price index rose 10.01% annually in November following a 7.89% increase in the previous month.

The further increase in headline inflation puts into question the likelihood of additional monetary policy easing, according to Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics.

"If headline inflation remains high above the central bank's 4.0% target in December's data, the chances of the final policy rate cut that we currently have penciled in for February would recede," Williams said in a note. The central bank's medium-term inflation target is 4%, plus or minus 2 percentage points.

On Dec. 5, the central bank maintained its benchmark interest rate under the liquidity adjustment facility at 5.15%, defying expectations for a sixth rate reduction in 2019. The bank had also slashed its economic growth forecast, saying it projects real GDP to expand 5.0% for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, down from 6.1% previously.

The country's real GDP growth decelerated to 4.5% in the three months to September from 5.0% in the previous quarter, reflecting the weakest level of expansion since 2013.