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COVID second wave, lockdowns threaten Q1 growth: UBS

The UBS India activity indicator, which is a measure of a complex set of real-time economic activity numbers, fell 7 percentage points to 95 last month

COVID second wave, lockdowns threaten Q1 growth: UBS

The same index had plunged 12 per cent in March 2020 and 25.5 per cent in April 2020 when the whole country was under a lockdown

With the second wave of the pandemic and the resultant localised lockdowns pulling down economic activity in April, Swiss brokerage UBS on Tuesday said this will impact the first quarter GDP to some extent.

The UBS India activity indicator, which is a measure of a complex set of real-time economic activity numbers, fell 7 percentage points to 95 last month.

The same index had plunged 12 per cent in March 2020 and 25.5 per cent in April 2020 when the whole country was under a lockdown, even though total cases across the country then were not even 25,000 while it has crossed the 2-crore mark now.

Without ascribing a number to the June quarter GDP, UBS Securities India chief economist Tanvee Gupta Jain in a note said their India economic activity index entered the negative terrain in April with a 7 percentage points fall to 95 due to the local lockdowns mostly in key business centres.

It expects activity levels to sequentially weaken further in May as most states have extended mobility restrictions to flatten the virus curve, thus adversely impacting real GDP growth in the June quarter.

She also pointed out the already visible impact on high-frequency data such as mobility, electricity demand, passenger traffic, vehicle registrations, e-way bill generation, job loses and work demand under rural employment programme, among others.

But it was quick to add that the adverse impact on growth momentum is still much lower than in 2020, as restrictions are lighter than last year and households and businesses have adjusted to the 'new normal'.

Stating that vaccination holds the key for saving lives and also the economy, she said the base case assessment is that the country will be able to inoculate only around 43 per cent of the total population or 64 per cent of the adult population by the end of December as vaccine production is low at 2.5-3 million doses daily.

Vaccine production is likely to remain at that level until end-May, and may reach 6 million doses per day by November, it added.

Also Read: Goldman Sachs downgrades India's growth forecast for FY22 To 11.1%

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