Weekly economic indicators: Power, freight numbers up; traffic holds steady

Power generation numbers were over 15 per cent higher than in 2019.
Some indicators of economic activity report higher numbers than in 2019, even as others have held on to their gains since the unlocking.

Electricity generation and goods carried by trains are higher now than last year. Other indicators like traffic have been showing steady improvement. Business Standard tracks these and other weekly economic indicators like pollution and location data to get a more current picture of the economy ahead of the formal macroeconomic numbers which are released with a lag. Analysts globally have depended on similar high frequency indicators to keep up with a fast-changing economic situation as different countries went into lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Power generation, pollution and traffic numbers are as of Sunday 11th, October.  The railway data is as of Saturday, 10th October. Google’s numbers are as of Friday 9th October.

The Indian Railways carried 21.3 per cent more goods than in the same week last year. This is in line with yearly changes reported for the previous week. Earnings in the previous week had been higher at over 23 per cent. Earnings were 12.64 per cent higher for the current week.

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Power generation numbers were over 15 per cent higher than in 2019. Electricity generation has been holding steady. It had dipped by nearly 30 per cent after the lockdown was announced in March as offices and factories shut down.

Traffic congestion in the financial capital Mumbai has improved to nearly 70 per cent of normal times, show numbers from location technology firm TomTom International. New Delhi traffic numbers are higher. Both have shown a rising trend in recent times. New Delhi traffic had fallen less than Mumbai and recovered faster.

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Business Standard tracks levels of nitrogen dioxide in key centers. The emissions comes from vehicles and industrial activity. Delhi numbers are 15 per cent higher than 2019. Mumbai emissions are down 97 per cent compared to 2019.

Search engine Google tracks anonymised location data to understand how people are moving in different places during the pandemic. Shopping for groceries and pharmacy visits are higher than before Covid-19 became a problem. Retail and recreation visits are down 37.4 per cent even as the government announced a fresh consumption boost.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced sops for government employees including a Rs 10,000 festival advance.  The government also announced a hike in capital expenditure. Capital expenditure is money spent to create long-term assets like roads or bridges.

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