India economy expands 8.9 percent
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India economy expands 8.9 percent

India’s economy expanded 8.9 percent in the latest quarter, exceeding expectations and indicating the country’s recovery is on track despite turbulence globally, particularly in Europe and the U.S.

The rapid growth for the July-September quarter also suggests the central bank will continue raising interest rates to tame inflation.

The growth rate matched the expansion in the April-June quarter, which was revised up, and exceeded the government’s forecast of 8.5 percent.

India has rebounded from the global downturn faster than expected thanks to strong domestic consumption, investment and good monsoon rains this year.

While enjoying robust growth, Asia’s third-largest economy is trying to contain soaring prices. In early November, India’s central bank raised key interest rates for the sixth time this year to contain persistently high inflation.

At 11.6 percent, India’s consumer price inflation is higher than any other major economy. Food inflation for September was 15.7 percent, down from 21.4 percent in May. High food prices are partly due to people eating more protein as they get richer, making it unlikely that good rains alone will wash away food inflation.

The manufacturing sector grew 9.8 percent in the latest quarter, slower than 13 percent in the April-June quarter. Factory output growth declined the most in 16 months — to 4.4 percent in September, reflecting a general slowdown in demand across sectors.

Meanwhile, the farm sector — agriculture, forestry and fishing — grew by about 4.4 percent for the quarter.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said he was confident that economic growth for the fiscal year ending March 2011 would exceed 8.75 percent, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Growth for the last fiscal year was 7.4 percent.

“We may be confident that at the end of this year the GDP growth will not be less than 8.7 to 8.75 percent,” Mukherjee said. “It may be more.”

Associated Press