The country’s largest lender State Bank of India on Tuesday hinted that lending rates may rise from the second quarter of fiscal 2010 -11, even though there is no immediate pressure on interest rates.

“So far as bank lending rates are concerned, I do not expect lending rates going up before May - June,” SBI Chairman O. P. Bhatt told reporters here.

He said money supply is under pressure, but interest rates will remain stable in immediate future.

“(There is) pressure on liquidity, but no immediate pressure on interest rates,” Mr. Bhatt said.

In its monetary review recently, the RBI asked banks to keep more cash with it, which will shrink money supply by Rs. 36,000 crore from the system.

The apex bank’s move to hike Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), portion of deposits banks kept in cash with the central bank, by 75 basis points to 5.75 per cent will come into effect from February 13 in two tranches.

Earlier, the largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar had also said that there would be upward pressure on interest rates from the second quarter of this fiscal, because demand for investment would increase.

Mr. Bhatt added that its associate bank SBI Indore will be merged into it by March-end.

The government and the SBI Board has already given in- principle approval to the merger. SBI Saurashtra has already been merged into the parent company.

Mr. Bhatt also said the SBI sees loan expansion at the rate of 16 -18 per cent this fiscal. “We are already at 17 per cent,” he said.

The RBI has also projected credit expansion target at 16 -18 per cent for this fiscal.

Keywords: SBIInterest ratesRBICRR

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