World Bulletin / News Desk
India's industrial output contracted for the third time in four months inJune, increasing pressure on new Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to move quickly to pullAsia's third-largest economy from its worst slowdown in almost a decade.
The contraction provided further ammunition to the slew of private economists who downgraded their growth outlook for India this week, citing a worsening drought and political hurdles to economic reform.
"The data bodes ill for Q2 (FY Q1) GDP growth which may well remain below 6 percent year-on-year. It highlights continued softness of the Indian economy amid contracting exports and weaker domestic demand," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, an economist with Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.
Industrial output in June shrank 1.8 percent, driven down by a deep dip in manufacturing, the data released on Thursday showed. The number was lower than a forecast of 1.0 percent growth in a Reuters poll and sharply lower than 9.5 percent growth a year earlier.
Economic growth faltered to a nine-year low of 5.3 percent in the quarter ending in March, with corporate investors deterred by high interest rates and a policy gridlock. Several economists this week cut their full-year growth forecast for India to around 5.5 percent -- which would be the slowest rate in 10 years.
India's industrial output data is volatile but is still considered a barometer of GDP growth. May's figure was revised to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent, the data showed.
Manufacturing, which constitutes about 76 percent of industrial production, shrank an annual 3.2 percent from a year earlier, the federal statistics office said.
Markets dipped after the unexpected contraction. The rupee was last trading at 55.15 per dollar compared to around 55.08 before the data, though that was still stronger than its 55.42/43 close against the dollar on Wednesday.
The benchmark 10-year bond yield fell about 2 basis points to 8.11 percent from levels before the data.
Capital goods, a key investment indicator that has shown growth only once in the past 10 months, slumped 27.9 percent in June, data on Thursday showed.
Adding to the upward pressure for oil is the crisis in the Middle East, where a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar has fuelled concerns of possible conflict.
Bourses in both Paris and Frankfurt dipped after a report from data monitoring company IHS Markit showed Eurozone private sector business activity slowed sharply in June while staying in expansion mode.
Analysts said that while the downturn in the headline readings was disappointing, the economy continued to put in a strong performance.
Crude prices stabilised after diving more than two percent on Tuesday on increasing fears of a global supply glut, as continued production in the US and elsewhere offsets an OPEC output cut deal.
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