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January core sector growth moderates to 3.7%

Crude oil output slips for 50th month in a row, fertiliser production dips 2%

February 28, 2022 09:03 pm | Updated 09:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI 

All the sectors except coal and steel recorded a slowdown in the year-on-year performance in January 2022 relative to the previous month. File

All the sectors except coal and steel recorded a slowdown in the year-on-year performance in January 2022 relative to the previous month. File

India’s output from all eight core infrastructure sectors surpassed pre-pandemic production levels this January, even as the pace of growth slowed marginally to 3.7% from a 4.1% uptick recorded in December 2021. 

Crude oil output continued to dip for the 50 th month in a row, dropping 2.4% year-on-year in January, even as fertilizer production entered contractionary mode with a 2% dip from January 2021 levels.

“Sequentially, output of the eight core sectors expanded moderately by 2% in January 2022 compared with a robust growth of 7.3% in December 2021… there was a broad-based moderation in momentum across sectors with natural gas and fertilisers too contracting sequentially,” CARE Ratings economists said in a note. 

Steel output recovered into growth territory from a 1% contraction in December, rising 2.8% in January, while cement output recorded robust positive growth for the second month in a row at 13.6% in January, after a drop in November 2021. 

Although the 3.7% growth in core sectors suggests a muted impact of the third COVID-19 wave in the country, ICRA chief economist Aditi Nayar said the disaggregated trend is ‘slightly less encouraging’, with all the sectors except coal and steel recording a slowdown in the year-on-year performance in January 2022 relative to the previous month. 

“We expect the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) to grow at around 1% in January 2022 from the initial growth estimate of 0.4% for December 2021,” Ms. Nayar said. The core sectors account for 40.27% of the IIP.

India Ratings economists Sunil Kumar Sinha and Paras Jasrai expressed concern at the weak growth in petroleum and refinery products despite a low base from January 2021, when output contracted 2.6%. 

“However, when compared with pre-COVID levels, the picture somewhat changes. The output of all the core sectors in January 2022 was higher than the pre-COVID level,” they noted, adding that this was the case only for seven of the eight sectors in December 2021. 

Coal production grew 8.2% in January, while natural gas and petroleum refinery production jumped 11.7% and 3.7%, respectively. Relatively, electricity generation recorded only a marginal 0.5% growth over January 2021 levels.

Based on fresh data, the growth rate in core sectors’ output for October 2021 has been revised upward from 8.4% to 8.7%, the Office of Economic Adviser in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade said. 

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