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India sees 2007-08 GDP growth at 8.7%

According to an official estimate the growth will be slower than the previous year as the impact of tight monetary policy dents consumer demand.
By HT Correspondent | Reuters, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2008 02:44 PM IST

India's economy is expected to expand at 8.7 per cent in fiscal 2007/08, slower than the previous year as the impact of tight monetary policy dents consumer demand, an official estimate showed on Thursday.

The estimate, the first official one for the financial year ending on March 31, matched a Reuters poll of analysts' forecasts, which pegged growth at 8.7 per cent.

The central bank has forecast the economy, Asia's third largest, would expand by 8.5 per cent this fiscal year, slower than 9.6 per cent in 2006/07, which was its strongest pace in 18 years.

"I think the actual growth will be close to this estimate and this will be in line with the central bank's calibrated moves to avoid overheating of the economy," said Harish Menon, economist with ING Vysya Bank.

"We expect the (fiscal year 2008/09) number to be closer to 9 per cent or higher."

Financial markets were cool to the growth numbers with the partially convertible rupee unchanged at 39.49/50 per dollar while the benchmark 10-year federal bond yield was stable at 7.49 per cent.

The central statistics office said manufacturing output growth was estimated at an annual 9.4 per cent compared with 12 per cent the previous year.

Services, which make up more than half of economic activity, were expected to grow 10.7 per cent in 2007/08. Farming, which generates a fifth of GDP but employs about 60 per cent of the billion-plus population, was estimated to expand 2.6 per cent.

Electricity generation was expected to grow 7.8 per cent and mining output 3.4 per cent.

The central bank raised interest rates five times in 10 months from June 2006 and tightened banks' reserve requirements through last year to keep a check on inflation and credit growth but that tightening has hurt consumer demand.

In a policy review last month, the Reserve Bank of India kept its key rates steady, saying inflation risks persisted, but it signalled its readiness to act if turbulence in global markets threatened growth and financial stability.

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