India’s economy was expanding at a steady pace in November, a month that saw the omicron variant of coronavirus induce fresh concerns about risks to the recovery.
All eight high-frequency indicators tracked by Bloomberg News were steady last month, keeping the needle on a dial measuring the so-called ‘Animal Spirits’ unchanged at 5. The level was arrived at by using the three-month weighted average readings to smooth out volatility in the single-month scores.
But the pace of activity — based on indicators from demand for services to factory output — faces threats from rising cases of the omicron variant, first detected in South Africa toward the end of last month. While the Reserve Bank of India this month kept its full-year growth forecast steady at 9.5%, Governor Shaktikanta Das sounded caution, saying “it is too premature to gauge” the effects of the new strain at this stage.
There are no economy-crippling restrictions yet, but the capital New Delhi canceled all Christmas and New Year’s festivities and joined some other states in reimposing night curfew as cases ticked up. The federal government separately announced widening the vaccination drive to include most teenagers and providing booster shots to vulnerable sections.
Below are details of the dashboard. (For an alternative gauge of growth trends, follow Bloomberg Economics’ monthly GDP tracker — a weighted index of 11 indicators.)
Activity in India’s dominant services sector expanded for the fourth consecutive month, while the manufacturing purchasing managers index climbed to 57.6 — the best showing since January, according to IHS Markit. That helped lift the composite index to the highest level in about a decade, with new orders also notching their top reading since February 2012.
Exports grew 27% year-on-year in November, slower than the 43% pace seen in the previous month. Imports rose 57%, reflecting a surge in demand for gold, iron and steel, machinery and electronic goods as economic activity rebounds.
Passenger car sales fell for a third straight month, as the global chip shortage hit production. That hiccup apart, RBI data showed demand for bank credit grew 7% in November from a year earlier, reflecting momentum in consumption trends. Liquidity conditions still showed a surplus last month, implying easy credit availability.
Industrial production expanded 3.2% in October from a year earlier, a slower pace than during the first five months of the fiscal year as the favorable base effect wears off.
Output at infrastructure industries, which makes up 40% of the industrial production index, expanded 7.5% in October. Both data are published with a one-month lag.