India’s industrial sector grows by mere 0.1 percent

India’s industrial sector grows by mere 0.1 percent

NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
India’s industrial sector grows by mere 0.1 percent

An employee test drives an electric bike at a manufacturing facility near Samakhial, India. The country’s industrial output grew just 0.1 percent in April year on year. AFP photo

India’s industrial output grew just 0.1 percent in April year-on-year, official data showed yesterday, adding to concerns about the economy and raising the chances of an interest rate cut next week.

The manufacturing sector, which accounts for three-quarters of the industrial production index, also expanded a weaker-than-expected 0.1 percent. Production of capital goods, a key indicator of investment, shrank 16.3 percent.

The data adds to an increasingly gloomy picture of the once-booming Indian economy, which analysts say has been hit by a lack of economic reforms, high interest rates, plummeting business confidence and the eurozone debt crisis.

Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected industrial production to increase 1.0 percent in April, based on a median of their predictions, after a shock contraction of 3.5 percent in March.

India’s growth slows to 5.3 pct in January-March
The new data comes on the heels of figures published on May 31 showing the Indian economy expanded 5.3 percent in the January-March period, the slowest quarterly growth figure in nine years that led to a round of soul-searching.

After a decade of scorching near double-digit economic growth, there is growing alarm that India is sliding back towards its previous expansion rate of 5-6 percent.

The government says India needs higher growth to lift its overwhelmingly poor 1.2-billion population out of poverty and provide the estimated 8.0-10 million new jobs every year to absorb the expected growth in the labor force.

 In contrast to the woes in India’s industrial sector, output from China’s factories grew 9.3 percent in April on a 12-month basis and 9.6 percent in May, the government said at the weekend.

India’s central bank is set to

hold a policy meeting on June 18 where it is expected to cut interest rates again, having raised them 13 times between March 2010 and October 2011.

“The weak industrial production number we have and the generally subdued growth and lower oil prices will add more pressure on the central bank to cut rates next week,” HSBC Asia analyst Leif Eskesen told local television.

He cautioned, however, that “I don’t think easing policy rates is the right instrument to improve the growth rate in India.” Lower interest rates are likely to result in higher inflation -- already at 7 percent on an annual basis -- because of India’s poor infrastructure and other structural constraints, many analysts believe.