NEW DELHI: Growth in eight core sector industries recovered marginally in December on the back of greater expansion in electricity generation, indicating that industrial output is not likely to recover significantly from last month’s surprise contraction.

The index rose 2.1 per cent against a 1.7 per cent expansion in the previous month, according to the data released by the ministry of commerce and industry on Friday.

The eight core industries–coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity–have a combined weight of 37.90 per cent in the index of industrial production (IIP), making it alead indicator of factory output. Industrial production unexpectedly contracted 2.1 per cent in November from a year ago.

Data for December will be released on February 12. “Sluggish lead indicators such as the core sector, merchandise exports and auto sector performance and continued raw material availability for the gems and jewelry sector are likely to result in a weak IIP print for December,” said Aditi Nayar, senior economist, ICRA.

The high base effect of 7.5 per cent growth in December last year also depressed the numbers to some extent. Growth in the first nine months was 2.5 per cent against 6.8 per cent in the year-ago period.

Coalnatural gas and refinery products contracted at 0.6 per cent, 9.9 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. Electricity was the silver lining, expanding the fastest at 6.7 per cent.

Fertiliser was another sector that did well with growth of 4.1 per cent in December. Cement and steel output remained under pressure, expanding 1.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively. “Subdued three-monthmoving averages for key sectors like cement and steel indicate a low likelihood of an appreciable uptick in economic activity in the ongoing quarter,” Nayar added