Industrial production in May slowed to 2.7% from 5.6% a year ago, dragged down by manufacturing, strengthening the case for an RBI rate cut.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for April too has been revised downwards to 3.36% from the earlier estimate of 4.1%. The growth in the first two months of the fiscal was 3% as against 4.6% in April-May of 2014-15.
According to the data released on Friday evening, a sharp deceleration in output was witnessed in the manufacturing sector though there was some pick-up in mining activity. Growth in power generation too saw a marginal slowdown at 6% from 6.7% in May of the last fiscal.
The growth in manufacturing was 2.2% in May compared with 5.9% in the corresponding month of the last year. The mining sector expanded 2.8% compared with 2.5% in May 2014. Manufacturing constitutes over 75% of the index.
The numbers further showed a slowdown in user-based industries, including capital goods and consumer durables. Output in the consumer goods, consumer durables and consumer non-durables segments shrank 1.6%, 3.9% and 0.1%, respectively. The growth in capital goods group was meagre 1.8% in the month under review as against 4.2% year-on-year.
The declaration in the industrial output may prompt RBI to consider industry demand of an interest rate cut in the next bi-monthly monetary policy meet on August 4. Besides data on industrial output and inflation, the central bank would also factor in spread of monsoon while deciding its monetary stance.
The rate of growth for production in basic goods dropped to 6.4% in the month under review from 7.5% in May 2014, the data showed. In terms of industries, 12 out of the 22 groups in manufacturing have recorded positive growth in May 2015 compared with the year-ago period.
Ficci President Jyotsna Suri said the manufacturing sector growth seems to be picking up though it remains sluggish. "With capital goods sector registering a positive growth, it indicates turnaround in investments in economy," she said.
Deloitte Economist Rishi Shah said the weakness in consumption demand continues to be the main worry as consumer durables contracted after a positive reading last month. "However, it (IIP) wasn't all bad news as capital goods registered expansion for the seventh consecutive month. Basic goods and intermediate goods production continues to remain positive," he said.