The only positive for the sector was an improved performance by the steel industry, which registered 7.9 per cent sales growth during Q4FY18, largely backed by higher volumes as prices saw some moderation during the March 2019 quarter on a year-on-year (YoY) basis. Domestic steel consumption in the period was firm, growing 8.8 per cent in Q4 YoY.
For aluminium and aluminium products, net sales during the quarter dipped 5.7 per cent to Rs 3,157 crore. The non-ferrous metals sector witnessed a steeper decline in sales by 14.7 per cent. Steel and iron products proved to be the outlier, where sales rose 7.9 per cent to Rs 86,210 crore in the quarter.
The metals sector’s depressing performance was emblematic of the country's GDP growth during the quarter. Data released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) showed that GDP growth dived to a five-year low of 5.8 per cent, down from 7.7 per cent in the same quarter of FY18.
In FY19, GDP growth at 6.8 per cent was also the slowest in five years. The CSO data illustrated that lacklustre performance — primarily in agriculture and mining sectors — crimped overall growth. As against a growth rate of 5 per cent in FY18, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors ticked a modest growth of 2.9 per cent in FY19. Mining and quarrying grew a measly 1.3 per cent in the last fiscal year, barely a fourth of the 5.1 per cent growth rate logged in FY18.