India's industrial output grew by a surprise 2.5 percent in March from a year ago, official figures showed Friday, fuelling hopes that the country's sharp economic slowdown may have bottomed out.
The March output growth from India's factories, mines and utilities surpassed financial market expectations of around a two percent increase and was up from a 0.6 percent rise posted in February.
But the output figures still are far below double-digit rates recorded in previous years when Asia's third-largest economy was booming.
Manufacturing, which accounts for three-quarters of the Index of Industrial Production, grew by 3.2 percent in March.
Capital goods output of such products as machinery and equipment -- seen as a barometer of investment intentions -- grew by 6.9 percent.
The Congress-led government forecasts the economy will grow by around six to 6.7 percent in this financial year, which began April 1, after estimated expansion of five percent last year -- its slowest pace in a decade.
The government has been battered by a string of corruption scandals and is anxious to revive growth before facing voters in polls due early next year.
The economy has been hit by high interest rates in the face of stubbornly strong inflation, weak exports and slow investment caused by fears about corruption and disappointment with the government's reform programme.
Analysts say industrial output will remain tepid due to soft global demand as well as supply bottlenecks caused by dilapidated highways, ports and other infrastructure.