Update, May 2012 | Axis Infra Index : 386.3
The Axis Infra Index (AII) had increased (to 386.3) in March 2012, after trending down over the first half of 2011 and troughing in November 2011. However, the AII was still down 32% yoy, indicating weak and stressed operating conditions over FY12. In Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation adjusted terms, too, the Axis Infra Index rose by a similar magnitude in March (these trends are shown in Chart 1 below). Part of this increase can be attributed to a seasonal jump in March, but there were other factors at play as well. On a QoQ 3M average basis, the AII rose by 20% in March.
Chart 1: Axis Infra Index
In terms of the contribution of Index constituents of the AII , the rise in the March Index reading was primarily driven by funds flows and projects completions (trends in the components of the Axis Infra Index are shown in Chart 2 below). The larger weight of funds flows in the AII (see Annexure on the details of the AII below) has contributed to the uptick.
Funds Flows: Bank credit to infrastructure sectors had increased by Rs 12,671 cr in March (v/s Rs 16,800 cr in December and Rs 5,159 cr in February). As is year-ends, there was a surge in debt placements during the March quarter. Between Dec-Mar’12, private debt placements rose by Rs 14,612 cr (compared to Rs 5,013 cr during Sep-Dec’11 quarter and Rs 4,755 cr in the Mar’11 quarter). There was one IPO of Rs 125 cr from NBCC Ltd, as part of the Govt disinvestment program.
Project Commencements: The Projects Commencement Index rose significantly in March, by almost 28% qoq, with Rs 49,825 cr worth of projects completed / starting operations, but are probably reflective of a cumulative process over the previous few months. FY12 was the last year in the XI Five Year Plan, which may have led to a bunching of project completions and not indicative of underlying trends. Some of the larger projects completed in March were Sterlite’s Jharsuguda Coal Fired Power Project Phase I (Rs 10,500 cr), Jhajjar Power Project (Rs 6,000 cr), NTPC’s Simhadri Power Expansion Project Phase II (Rs 5,038 cr) and GAIL’s Dadri-Bawana-Nangal Gas Pipeline Project (Rs 2,357 cr).
Output Indicators: Indicators like power generation, ports throughput, cement dispatches, etc., are used as proxies for the output of the major infrastructure sectors, reflecting operations in infra segments. As is the case each March, the “Output Indicators” index spiked higher. Main contributors were cement despatches, and port throughput. Though power generation rose sequentially, the rise was not significant as seen in prior year-ends.
Chart 2: Movements in the components of the Axis Infra Index
Table: Measurable components of Axis Infra Index
Policy Environment: The RBI and Government have taken the first steps in reversing its tight monetary policy, announcements of certain incremental policy measures in easing bottlenecks (including initiatives on coal supplies), suggesting that the AII might be supported by the capture of these measures in the policy component in the next update as increasing clarity is obtained on the actual implementation of these and earlier measures. However, there still remain uncertainty in the regulatory framework, particularly for telecom spectrum auctions.
The Annexure in the following page provides a brief summary of the methodology of the construction of the Axis Infra Index.