The numbers were bolstered by manufacturing and a low growth of 2.4 per cent a year ago due to demonetisation.
Madan Sabnavis, chief economist with CARE Ratings, said there was all-round performance, especially in manufacturing. “Cumulative growth at 3.7 per cent indicates that growth for the entire year could reach 5 per cent if this tendency is sustained.”
On the other hand, Consumer Price Index-based inflation fell from 5.21 per cent in December to 5.07 per cent in January, broadly in line with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s projection. This justified the RBI stance of maintaining status quo on the policy rate.
During the recent policy review, the RBI had raised projection for inflation to 5.1 per cent for the fourth quarter from the earlier 4.3-4.7 per cent.
Food inflation fell to 4.70 per cent from 4.96 per cent, while inflation in fuels fell to 7.73 per cent from 7.90 per cent. Vegetables prices remained high. These rose at 26.97 per cent in January, albeit less than 26.97 per cent in the previous month.
The gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the third quarter of the financial year is due this month-end. The second advance data is also expected then. Among the important data points to watch out for this month are Wholesale Price Index-based inflation and exports data.
The GDP growth is estimated at 6.5 per cent in 2017-18 against 7.1 per cent in 2016-17, according to the Advance Estimates.
The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, RBI and the Economic Survey have estimated this growth to be slightly higher at 6.6-6.7 per cent.
Data showed that industrial performance and gross fixed capital formation, indicating investments, might recover in the third quarter. This was because the IIP had grown by 5.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2017-18, up from 3.3 per cent sequentially.
IIP growth was on low base of last year. ICRA Senior Economist Aditi Nayar said, “These trends support our view that a part of the spike in manufacturing growth in November 2017 was a catch-up because of the muted volumes in the earlier months of FY2018, which would ebb away, even as a favourable base and renewed growth momentum would result in moderately healthy volume growth in several sub-sectors in the remainder of FY2018.”