Infrastructure sector expanded at the highest pace in three months, recording a growth rate of 5 per cent in September due to improved performance of steel, refinery products and cement sectors, according to data released by the commerce and industry ministry on Monday.
The growth rate of the eight infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity — was 3.2 per cent in August this year and 3.7 per cent in September 2015. The core sectors contribute 38 per cent of the total industrial production in the country and any uptick indicates a revival of the industrial sector.
The cumulative growth of the sector during April-September period of the fiscal was 4.6 per cent against 2.6 per cent in the same period last fiscal.
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The pickup in core sector growth points towards a likely rise in the index of industrial production after two months of contraction, building upon the uptick in expansion of non oil exports, healthy growth of auto production and inventory stocking prior to the festive season. But the continued contraction in output of coal, crude oil and natural gas as well as the sub-3 per cent growth in fertilisers and electricity indicate a narrow recovery, said Aditi Nayar, vice president & senior economist, ICRA Ltd.
Production of cement, steel and refinery products grew by 5.5 per cent, 16.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in September this year. Steel sector has now grown by 16-17 per cent in the past two months.
“Core sector growth in the last two months has benefitted from the sharp rise in steel production powered by various measures taken by the government that may get phased in the next few months. Domestic demand for steel has not recovered at a similar pace, casting some doubts on the sustainability of the recent steel growth,” Nayar said.
Growth in fertiliser and electricity generation fell to 2 per cent and 2.2 per cent in September 2016, from 18.3 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively in September 2015. Production of coal, crude oil and natural gas, however, contracted by 5.8 per cent, 4.1 per cent and 5.5 per cent during the month under review. The government will release the data for October month on 30th November.
During April-September period, refinery products recorded the highest growth of 7.9 per cent, followed by steel (7.2 per cent), fertiliser (5.6 per cent), electricity (5.1), cement (4.5 per cent) and coal (1.2 per cent). Output of natural gas and crude oil declined by 4.4 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively, April-September 2017.