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  • 14 June, 2021

  • 2 Min Read

Inflation and Industrial output data.

Inflation and Industrial output data.

The latest retail inflation and industrial output data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) offer some relief from the pall of gloom cast by the relentless second wave of the COVID19 pandemic.

The recent statistics

  • Provisional headline inflation slowed to a three-month low of4.29% in April, helped by softer food prices and a statistical base effect. The rate using an imputed index for the year earlier period was 7.22%.
  • Index of Industrial Production (IIP) estimates show all three sectoral constituents of the index-mining, manufacturing and e suffered effecting, which accounts for 77.6% of the IIP, saw production shrink 12.6% from March, and contributing to a 13% sequential contraction in overall industrial output.
  • The output of capital goods and consumer durables also lagged the corresponding 2019 levels by 14.3% and 11.6%.
  • Consumer non-durables, comprising household essentials, witnessed an almost 11% contraction from March, testifying to the demand destruction that has accompanied the second wave.
  • A separate NSO release showed March industrial output jumped by22.4%, benefiting again from the fact that the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had posted an 18.7% contraction in March 2020, when the economy was halted by the start of a nationwide lockdown.
  • Composite PMI Output Index slid from 55.4 in April to 48.1 in May indicating a moderate reduction in activity. New vehicle registrations more than halved in May from the previous month, another tell-tale sign of the demand drought.
  • A closer look at the inflation data reveals a substantial cooling in the prices of cereals, milk and milk products, vegetables, and pulses and products.
  • While both cereals and vegetables saw a deflationary trend widen to 2.96% and14.2%, respectively, dairy products, which have the second largest weight in the food and beverages category, also slid into deflation territory at 0.13%.
  • And price gains in pulses, having been stubbornly stuck in the double digits over an 18month stretch, decelerated into single digits to reach a 20month low of 7.51%.
  • The combined impact slowed inflation across the food and beverages group by more than 250 basis points to 2.66%.
  • Still, the same Consumer Price Index data also point to persistent price pressures that could potentially fan faster inflation in the coming months, especially at time when the socioeconomic burden of the crippling pandemic and the impact of the lockdown that several States are resorting to is yet to be fully gauged.
  • Price gains in meat and fish quickened to 16.7% and was little changed at 10.6% in the case of eggs, while inflation in oils and fats accelerated almost 100 basis points to25.9%.
  • Transport and communication also remained in the double-digit range at 11.04%, despite benefiting from the virtual freeze in the pump prices of petroleum products that coincided with last month’s Assembly elections.
  • Now, with global crude oil starting to firm again and local petrol and diesel prices resuming their upward trajectory, the prospect of haulage costs —for transporting goods from factory and farm gates — rising in the near term is very real.
  • The rising international commodity prices and the outlook for inflation gets even more cloudy.
  • Industrial production numbers may also provide cheer only for a limited period, aided in no small measure by output having cratered in the first few months of the last fiscal.
  • HIS Markit’s PMI survey for April showed new orders and output having slowed to eight month lows, and with the pandemic triggered factory shutdowns threatening supply disruptions, industrial production and inflation face challenges. Policymakers must stay vigilant to ensure price stability even as measures to bolster demand are the need of the hour.

For more on economic impact due to pandemic

Source: TH

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