The output of eight core infrastructure sectors contracted by 4.6% in February, government data showed on Wednesday.

This is the steepest contraction in the last six months. In August 2020, the sectors had recorded a negative growth of 6.9%. In January this year, the core sector segments registered a positive growth of 0.9%.

All the key segments, including coal, crude oil, natural gas, and refinery products, witnessed a contraction in production in February, as per the Commerce and Industry Ministry data.

Coal production declined by 4.4%, crude oil by 3.2%, natural gas by 1%, refinery products by a steep 10.9%, fertilisers by 3.7%, steel by 1.8%, cement by 5.5% and electricity by 0.2%.

[Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry]

The growth rate of these eight sectors stood at 6.4% in February 2020, the government said.

“The lead indicators such as the core sector, auto output and non-oil exports have revealed a decidedly mixed trend for February 2021,” ICRA Limited Principal Economist Aditi Nayar told PTI. “Based on the available data, we expect the contraction in the IIP [Index of Industrial Production] to deepen to 2-3% in February 2021 from 1.6% in January 2021.”