Core sector growth slows to 3-month low of 2.4% in December

Growth in eight core industries slowed to three-month low of 2.4 per cent in December last year, adding to clamour for a rate cut by RBI tomorrow.

Negative growth in crude oil, natural gas, fertiliser and steel has led to the dip in the overall growth rate of core industries.

The eight core sector industries -- coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity -- had expanded by 4 per cent in December, 2013.

The growth was 6.7 per cent in November, 2014.

The core sector contributes 38 per cent to the overall industrial production, a parameter that RBI takes into account while framing its monetary policy.

As per HSBC Purchasing Managers Index, manufacturing growth also slipped to a three-month low in January on slower pace of order flows from domestic and global markets, raising hopes of a rate cut by the RBI in its policy review.

Bankers believe inflation is under control and macroeconomic indicators are also conducive for a further rate cut of 0.25 per cent, even as some expect the central bank to maintain a status quo.

"Notwithstanding the moderation in core sector growth in December and the fiscal cushion created through the stake sale in Coal India Ltd, we expect the RBI to pause in the February policy review and resume rate cuts only after the presentation of the Union Budget at the end of this month," ICRA said in a statement.

Production of crude oil declined by 1.4 per cent, natural gas by 3.5 per cent, fertiliser by 1.6 per cent and of steel by 2.4 per cent in the month under review.

Coal production grew by 7.5 per cent, refinery products by 6.1 per cent and cement by 3.8 per cent.

Growth in electricity generation declined to 3.7 per cent from 7.6 per cent.

During April-December, the eight sectors grew by 4.4 per cent as against 4.1 per cent in the same period last year.

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