The output of the eight core sectors of the Indian industry – coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity – grew 5.5% in February as compared to the same month last year. The growth was the best in 11 months.

The eight core sectors make up 40.27% of the weight of all sectors that figure in the monthly Index of Industrial Production data. The data is considered to be a reflection of the performance of Indian industries.

Data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday showed that the growth in February was due to an expansion in coal, refinery products and electricity sectors. Coal grew 10.3%, refinery products 7.4% and electricity output rose 11% as compared to February 2019.

However, natural gas production contracted 9.6% and crude oil 6.4% during the month.

March 2019 was the last time the expansion in the core industry output was high, when production grew 5.8%. During the year gone by, three months reported contraction in core sector output – August, September and October. However, after the 5.5% decline in October, the figure has been rising again.

By February, India had not yet faced the full strength of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. All but three of India’s 1,251 patients of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus infection, were reported in March. As a result, the country has had to suspend nearly all economic activity due to a countrywide lockdown in place since March 25. Advisories to limit travel and outside activity have been in place for most of the month. These developments are expected to drive down India’s economic parameters heavily, starting March.