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Indian Industrial Output Expected to Be Strong in FY04
May 11, 2004
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India's industrial production probably grew at its fastest pace in 8 years in the fiscal year ended March 31, as a U.S. $14-billion road-building program and a surge in rural incomes spurred demand for manufactured goods.

Production at factories, utilities, and mines may have risen 6.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 11 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. That's the fastest since the year to March 1996, when output grew 13 percent.

AB Electrolux's Indian unit and other appliance makers are producing more to meet demand for washing machines and refrigerators after record crops fueled by heavy monsoon rains lifted incomes in the countryside, where seven in 10 Indians live. A project to build almost 14,000 km of roads boosted demand for cement and trucks and prompted Michelin & Cie., Europe's biggest tiremaker, to invest about $80 million in India.

"The Indian economy is developing and you can see that around you," said Jean-Marc Francois, president, Asia-Pacific of Michelin Asia-Pacific Pte., which plans to build a $100 million factory with Apollo Tyres Ltd., India's biggest truck tiremaker, and buy a $28 million stake in Apollo. "India is investing a lot in infrastructure and that's a perfect condition for our entry."

Rising factory output helped Asia's fourth-largest economy grow 8.1 percent in the year ended March 31, the most in 15 years, the government estimates. Industrial production accounts for a quarter of India's gross domestic product, estimated at $575 billion at the end of December 2003 by the International Monetary Fund. (Bloomberg News)

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