India Output Grows Nearly 4%

Growth was boosted by higher exports and manufacturing

Outperforming market expectations, India's industrial output grew by nearly 4% in January from a year earlier, official data showed on March 11.

The output growth, boosted by higher exports and manufacturing, shows Asia's third-largest economy is picking up speed despite aggressive monetary tightening aimed at curbing high inflation.

The output by mines, factories and utilities expanded 3.7% -- a nearly full percentage point above market forecasts of a 2.9% rise.

The numbers marked a sharp pick-up from December when production expanded 2.5% according to revised figures.

The output figures come a day after the government announced India's merchandise exports in February surged by nearly 50% from a year earlier to $23.6 billion.

They also follow recent figures showing the HSBC Markit Purchasing Managers' Index -- an indicator of manufacturing expansion -- rose to a three-month high in February.

But the latest output data were still down sharply from January 2010, when production soared 16.8% as India was pulling out of the global financial crisis and manufacturers were rapidly cranking up activity. Economists cite the high base numbers from a year ago as partly to blame for the recent weaker data.

The central bank is due to meet next week to decide whether to boost interest rates again in a new bid to tame inflation running at nearly 8.5%, far above its tolerance level.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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