India reports 8.4% quarterly growth on pandemic recovery

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Pedestrians walk past the Bombay Stock Exchange building in Mumbai on November 26, 2021. India maintained its pandemic bounceback with 8.4 percent growth in the July-September quarter, official data showed Tuesday. (Photo: AFP)
MUMBAI, India — India maintained its pandemic bounceback with 8.4 percent growth in the July-September quarter, official data showed Tuesday, boosted by a broad-based recovery after a deadly infection surge earlier this year.اضافة اعلان

Asia’s third-largest economy was hammered in 2020 by sudden COVID lockdowns that saw most industrial and manufacturing activity grind to a halt for months. 

Infections skyrocketed again earlier this year in an outbreak that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

But the latest on-year expansion shows the economy returning to its pre-virus size.

“Growth is on expected lines but it has been helped largely by the base effect. The growth over 2019 is only marginal,” CARE Ratings chief economist Madan Sabnavis said.

The economy grew by a record 20.1 percent in the April-June quarter, compared to a contraction of 24.4 percent during India’s most stringent virus lockdown last year. 

The latest figures come as concern grows over the spread of the highly infectious Omicron COVID variant, which has weighed on global market sentiment.

“Growth seems to be on the road to 9.1 percent for the full year but a new COVID wave would put that estimate in danger,” Sabnavis said. 

“If not for Omicron, we could have upgraded the growth forecast.”

India has yet to detect any cases of the variant, health minister Mansukh Mandviya told parliament Tuesday.

Compared to the previous quarter, India’s economy expanded by 10 percent at constant prices, according to an AFP estimate. The government does not release quarter-on-quarter economic data.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund slashed growth forecasts for India earlier this year after the huge COVID outbreak in April and May that killed more than 200,000 people.

But some analysts had raised their expectations in recent weeks in the wake of rising consumption and with new virus infections falling.

The World Bank’s most recent India forecast in October predicted 8.3 percent growth for the 2021-22 fiscal year, after a record contraction of 7.3 percent in the pandemic’s first year.

The Reserve Bank of India has maintained an accommodative stance on inflation to support the economy despite rising prices.

It is expected to hold key interest rates steady at its meeting next week.

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