New Delhi: India’s industrial production contracted 5.1% in October, largely because of a 6% dip in manufacturing production. Mining production contracted 7.2% while electricity output grew 5.6%, according to government data.
Technicians on the line at Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. Scorpio factory in Nashik. Bloomberg / File photo
Capital goods slumped by 25.5% in October while production of intermediate and consumer goods also contracted.
In terms of industries, 13 out of the 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed positive growth in October.
During April-October, industrial production expanded 3.5%. The output had grown 7.8% in the 2010/11 fiscal year that ended in March, slower than 10.5% clocked in the previous year.
Stocks extended their losses to 0.7% after the data, while bonds, swaps and the rupee were little changed.
On Friday, the finance ministry slashed its economic growth forecast for the fiscal year ending next March to between 7.25% and 7.75% from 9.0% estimated in February, and Monday’s dismal figure adds to the woes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s embattled government.
The data provides further stark evidence of a slowdown in the economy and could sway a hawkish central bank to begin easing its policy stance, although the RBI is not expected to begin cutting interest rates at its mid-quarter review on Friday after 13 increases since early 2010.
Instead, some market watchers expect it to lower the cash reserve ratio, the proportion of deposits banks must keep with the central bank in cash, in order to ease tight market liquidity, or pledge more support for short-term funding markets.
The RBI has raised its key lending rate by a total of 375 basis points since March 2010 to combat inflation that has stayed above 9% for nearly a year. However, its rate hikes have done more to dampen growth than tame inflation.
With investment stalling, many private economists expect the economy to struggle to grow even at 7% this year.
While the RBI still remains focused on cooling inflation, a slowdown in the domestic economy and global uncertainty are pushing growth onto its policy radar.
Emerging economies, faced with headwinds from Europe’s festering debt crisis and a sluggish US economy, have begun to take steps to shield themselves.
China and Brazil are among several countries that have relaxed monetary policy. The RBI is expected to reverse its tight monetary stance next year if inflation eases below 7%.
Until then, industrial output is expected to remain weak.
In a sign of things to come, manufacturing sector expansion slowed in November, although car sales posted their first monthly rise in five months.
The slowdown in India’s growth has put government finances under stress. Tax receipts lag budgeted estimates, while expenditures are climbing at a faster pace.
Analysts expect the fiscal deficit to be bigger than forecast this year, as choppy market conditions undermine government divestment in state-run firms, worth Rs40,000 crore ($7.63 billion).
The fiscal deficit is already nearly 74% of the target for the financial year to March 2012. A Reuters poll forecast it will reach 5.5% of GDP, or nearly 1 percentage point over target, which will force up government borrowings.
The government has already unveiled Rs52,800 crore of extra borrowing for the remainder of this year.
Reuters also contributed to this story