Economy Recovery Hopes Dashed as Industrial Output Unexpectedly Shrinks
February 12, 2013 8:31 PM EST
India's industrial production unexpectedly shrank for a second straight month in December, weighed down by weak investment and consumer demand, casting doubt on Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's view that Asia's third largest economy is showing signs of recovery.
The index of industrial production (IIP) fell 0.6 percent annually in December, data released by the Central Statistics Office showed on Tuesday.
A Reuters poll of 24 economists had expected growth of 1.1 percent, after output shrank 0.8 percent in November.
"What is clear is that any meaningful industrial recovery is eluding us. Demand destruction is far more well entrenched than we thought," said Sujan Hajra, chief economist at brokerage firm Anand Rathi in Mumbai, who said he now sees GDP growth next year of 5-6 percent.
Preliminary data from India's statistics office last week predicted growth of 5 percent for the fiscal year ending in March 2013.
That was worse than anticipated and triggered an angry response from Chidambaram.
Chidambaram said the Central Statistical Organisation had used "dated data" and argued that GDP growth was following an upward trend in a sign of revival. He reiterated his view that 5.5 percent growth was possible.
"We can recapture the magic of 2004-08. The average growth was 8.5 per cent during that period," he said on Saturday.
"Why should we, without any reason, denigrate our own performance and record? I have no doubt in my mind that we will come out of the trough and we will climb back to a growth rate of between 6-7 percent next year," he said.
Chidambaram is under political pressure to unveil a growth-oriented budget on February 28 for the next fiscal year, as the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gears up for an election due by early 2014 at the latest.
But he is also faced with the arduous task of trimming a swollen fiscal deficit that has put India's investment-grade credit rating in peril. He has already ordered spending cuts in welfare, defence and road projects for this financial year.
Critics warn that at a time of low growth, lower spending risks deepening the slowdown without helping the deficit-to-GDP ratio.
RATE CUTS MAY HELP
The Reserve Bank of India reduced its policy interest rates by a widely expected 25 basis points on January 29 to spur the economy, and investors hope slower price rises will lead to another.
"Despite incremental efforts we are still staring at a weak growth print," said Jyotinder Kaur, economist at HDFC Bank.
"We expect a rate cut in March as growth is consistently surprising on the downside while the pace of CPI (consumer price inflation) has stabilised."
Consumer price inflation inched up to 10.79 percent in January from 10.56 percent a month ago, according to other data on Tuesday.
January wholesale price index data, which the Reserve Bank of India gives more weight to in setting policy, is due on Friday. The index for December rose 7.18 percent, the slowest in three years.
Most Popular Slideshows
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 1: San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series - Game 2: Kansas City Royals 7, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
- NFL Thursday Recap - Denver Broncos 35, San Diego Chargers 21: Peyton Manning Has 3 TDs In Easy Win [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 3: Kansas City Royals 3, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Australia's Low Birth Rate May Be Due to Low Confidence in Economy
- Fears Of Infection Spread Prompt Some US Hospitals To Refuse Ebola Patients
- Readers Slam a Book Showing That US Wealth And Power Rests on Slave Labour
- LG G Watch R To Be Available Globally Starting With Europe, North America And Asia Through Retail Sites And Play Store
- Young Teen Fighter Says ISIS Uses Drugs On Suicide Bombers To Get Them Perform The Act
- Xiaomi Redmi 1S vs. Sharp Aquos Crystal – Specifications, Features And Price Showdown
- Verizon Motorola Droid Turbo Leaked Live Images Surfaces, Scheduled To Get Unveiled On Oct 28
- Update HTC One M7 with LG G2 with Android 4.4.2 as Sprint OTA: Fixes and Installation
- U.S. Targets Buyers of ISIS Oil, Threatens Sanctions
- ISIS Syria Airstrike Bombing Has Killed 550 People, Civilians Included
- Russia Blocking OSCE Monitoring Of Its Border With Ukraine
- Russia Slams US 'Double Standards' In The Fight Against ISIS