India's industrial output shrank by an unexpected 2.1 percent in November, official data showed Friday, dealing a fresh blow to recovery hopes for Asia's third-largest economy.
The year-on-year output fall defied market forecasts of one percent growth and marked the second straight month of contraction.
It was grim news for the scandal-scarred Congress government, which has been hoping for an economic turnaround before general elections due by May.
Manufacturing output, which accounts for over three-quarters of the Index of Industrial Production, shrank by 3.5 percent in November from a year earlier.
India's economy grew at a decade low of five percent last year -- a far cry from near-double digit expansion during the nation's boom times -- due in part to high interest rates to combat inflation that have slowed borrowing and spending.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has forecast that the economy will equal last year's growth of five percent, but many economists have predicted expansion in the four percent range.
The industrial output data came on top of weak export figures Friday.
Exports, which have been seen as a driver of economic recovery, grew just 3.49 percent in December from a year earlier.
The subdued export growth reflected a slowdown from previous months when overseas sales grew at double-digits, propelled by a weak rupee.
Imports, meanwhile, slumped by 15.25 percent in December from a year earlier, reflecting depressed domestic demand.