India’s business activity hits another post-lockdown high but pandemic revival a key risk: Nomura

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Business activity in India rose to another post-lockdown high over the past week after plateauing the week earlier, but the revival of the pandemic threat posed a key risk post festive season, according to brokerage firm Nomura.

The Nomura India Business Resumption Index (NIBRI) touched 87.1 for the week ended November 22, against 84.4 of the previous week, which was revised downward from 85.3, the firm said in a note on Monday.

The jump in the weekly tracker of indicators of business activity was mobility-driven, led by a sharp rise in the Apple driving index, the note said.

Google’s retail and recreation mobility continued to rise as well, Nomura said, reflecting the festive season effect of more holidays and shopping. On the other hand, workplace mobility fell by 13 basis points over the week, it said.

In a worrying trend, the firm noted that India’s labour participation rate dropped further to 39.3% from already depressed levels of 39.5% in the week before. Power demand also recorded a marginal drop of 0.1% week-on-week after clocking 5.6% growth in the previous week, it added.

“A key short-term risk is the revival of the pandemic threat as we transition out of the festive season,” said Nomura economists Sonal Verma and Aurodeep Nandi, in the note.

The sharp rebound thus far could hit a speed bump in the next two-three months as localised lockdowns put a spanner in the pace of sequential growth, Nomura said.

Cities in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have reinstated lockdown restrictions to varying degrees with others contemplating the move as cases of Covid have started spiking again.

On November 11, Delhi recorded its highest number of daily fresh cases at 8,593, which came down to 6,746 cases as of Monday.

“However, the early deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine would likely prove to be a tailwind in H2 2021,” the note said.

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