June 15, 2019 / 10:15 AM / a month ago

India's flat May fuel demand points to sluggish economy

A worker holds a nozzle to pump petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai, India, May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

India’s fuel demand in May was unchanged from a year earlier, preliminary government data showed on Saturday, indicating a continued slowdown in various sectors including industrial output.

Fuel consumption, a proxy for oil demand, was 18.61 million tonnes in May, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the oil ministry showed on Saturday.

India’s economy grew 5.8% in March quarter, its slowest pace in more than four year, falling behind China’s pace for the first time in nearly two years.

Several indicators – automobile sales, rail freight and domestic air traffic - indicate a slowdown in domestic consumption. India has not yet released industrial output data for May.

Sales of gasoline, or petrol, rose by a robust 11.32% to 2.73 million tonnes in May as the narrowing price gap with diesel is pushing motorists to opt for petrol-driven vehicles. Diesel sales rose 2.84% to 7.78 million tonnes.

Cooking gas, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), rose marginally to 2.06 million tonnes.

Naphtha sales increased by 7.73% to 1.09 million tonnes and sales of bitumen, used for making roads, were down by 8.4%.

India revised down its fuel consumption for April to 17.67 million tonnes, a decline of 0.6% from a year earlier, the data showed.

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