New Delhi: Key infrastructure industries including six core sectors - crude oil, petroleum refinery, cement, electricity, finished steel and coal contributed to an improved growth of 7.4 percent in March over 6.8 pe cent a year ago, raising prospects of a steady overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP) growth.

The infrastructure growth was led by crude oil and finished steel which expanded by 12.1 percent and 9.9 percent respectively in March, against 3.5 per cent and 7.7 percent a year ago.

However, the overall performance in fiscal 2010-11, improved by a narrow margin to 5.9 percent from 5.5 percent in the previous year.

The numbers are good but it will not have a major impact on IIP. It will help to stabilise IIP but not pull it up," FICCI Director General Rajiv Kumar said, adding the same trend is expected to continue in the coming months.

Industrial growth slowed to 3.6 per cent in February, 2011, compared to 15.1 per cent expansion in the year-ago period.

According to provisional data released today, petroleum refinery products registered a growth of 8.5 per cent in March, a complete turnaround in comparison to the same month
last year, when output had contracted by 1.1 per cent.

Growth in electricity and cement production slowed down marginally in the reporting period to 7.6 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, from 7.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent in the
previous year.

However, in stark contrast, coal output contracted by 1.2 per cent in the month under review compared to 8 per cent expansion in the corresponding year-ago period.

During the fiscal 2010-11, the crude oil output grew by 11.9 per cent, as against a 0.5 per cent in 2009-10.

Coal output remained constant during April-March 2010-11. The sector grew by 7.9 per cent in 2009-10, the data said.

Electricity and cement production also slowed down to 5.6 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively from 6.2 per cent and 10.5 per cent in the same period last year.

The data further showed that petroleum refinery output expanded by 3 per cent during the period -- as against 0.5 per cent contraction in April-March 2010-11, while finished steel production rose by 8.2 per cent, compared to 5.4 per cent growth in the corresponding period of 2009-10.