Core sectors register notable improvement in Sept 2020
The eight core sectors registered a notable improvement in September 2020 recording a marginal fall of 0.8 per cent compared with negative growth of (-) 7.3 per cent in August 2020 and (-)5.1 per cent in the corresponding month last year. This recovery in the core sector has been on account of double digit growth in the coal segment and positive growth in the electricity segment for the first time in the last seven months. Positive growth recorded in coal, steel and electricity does indicate that the unlock programme has had a positive impact on these three segments. Moreover, a low base effect has also led to a perceptible pick-up in September 2020. Despite the sharp recovery, the core sector index has declined for the seventh consecutive month. The oil segments continue to record negative growth along with the cement and fertilisers segment.
There has been an improvement in the estimate for August wherein the fall is (-)7.3 per cent as against the earlier estimate of (-)8.5 per cent. During April-September 2020, the core sector output has contracted by 8 per cent as against a positive growth of 1.3 per cent during the same period of FY20, which can be ascribed to the coronavirus pandemic induced nation-wide lockdown that brought production activities to a near standstill. All sectors barring fertilizers registered de-growth in industrial output during the first half of FY21.
l Coal production recorded its highest growth in the new series, registering a double digit growth of 21.2 per cent reflective of resumption of industrial activities and higher thermal power demand. A negative base (-20.5 per cent in September 2019) also supported the growth in coal production.
l Crude oil production contracted by 6 per cent in September 2020 compared with a negative growth of (-)6.3 per cent in August 2020 and (-)5.3 per cent in the corresponding month last year. This is the 34th consecutive month in which crude oil production has recorded a contraction. This fall in production can be ascribed to technical mishaps such as unavailability of drilling equipment or installation of new platforms, closure of wells due to less offtake because of the COVID-19 coupled with limitations and restriction in movement of onshore field operations.
l Natural gas production recorded a negative growth of (-)10.6 per cent in September, the 16th consecutive month of decline. This fall can be attributed to restricted off-take by major consumers and temporary closure of gas-wells in western off-shores.
l Refinery production, having high weightage in eight core, contracted by (-)9.5 per cent in September but registering an improvement over the previous month (-19.5 per cent in August). This is the seventh consecutive month in which there has been negative growth in this segment. The improvement on MoM levels can be ascribed to further unlocking of the economy, dropping of lockdown restrictions, and improvement in the capacity utilisation to 85 per cent in September (78 per cent in August). However, it continues to remain negative reflective of absence of revival in the transport segment.
l Output of steel sector grew by 0.9 per cent in September, its first positive growth after 6 consecutive months of negative growth. This corroborates the picture revealed by some of the steel companies which have seen good demand especially from the construction and auto sector.
l Cement production continues to record negative growth and has fallen by (-)3.5 per cent in September. However there has been a sharp improvement in this segment compared with the previous months during the fiscal. Robust increase in construction activity following returning back of labour to construction activities can be a key reason for this improvement.
l Output of fertilizers fell marginally by (-)0.3 per cent in September compared to 7.3 per cent growth in August and 5.5 per cent growth in the corresponding period last year.
l Electricity production rose to seven-month high of 3.7 per cent in September after six previous months of sustained negative growth. This improvement reflects higher industrial and business activity and a similar pattern is witnessed in coal as well.
CARE Ratings’ view
The sharp improvement in the core sector output is encouraging and collates well with the higher consumer spending seen in early October. A low base effect in the next month and the further unlocking of the economy is likely to push this growth into positive territory in the next month. The negative growth in the oil segment will further narrow in the coming months as the unlock process becomes more prevalent in the country. IIP growth for this month may be expected to be between -2-5 per cent.
Courtesy: CARE Ratings
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Sushant Hede, Associate Economist at CARE Ratings. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +91-22-6837 43406
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