India's infrastructure sector growth slowed to a five-month low in December due to a contraction in coal and crude oil segments and sluggish steel, natural gas and electricity expansion.
The eight core sectors, spanning coal, crude, cement, steel, electricity, refinery output, natural gas and fertilizers rose an annual 4%, slower than the previous month’s upwardly revised 7.4% and lower than 5.6% expansion in the same month a year earlier. Cumulative growth during April-December 2017-18 was 4%.
The cement sector remained the mainstay of growth, rising an annual 19.6% during December, while the steel sector rose 2.6%, slowing from previous month’s 17.1% expansion. Economists said slowdown in the steel segment needs careful monitoring.
Core sector accounts for 40.3% of index of industrial production and its performance is a pointer to trajectory of factory output data. Economists said IIP growth in December is likely to be 3.5-4% compared to 17-month high of 8.4% in November.