India's economic growth slowed to its weakest annual pace in almost three years in the three months to December, as high interest rates and rising input costs constrained investment and manufacturing.

Gross domestic product rose 6.1 percent in October to December compared with a year earlier, a lower than expected increase, figures from the federal statistics office showed.

COMMENTARY:

SAILESH K. JHA, HEAD OF ASIA STRATEGY, SKANDINAVISKA

ENSKILDA BANKEN, SINGAPORE

We believe GDP growth has bottomed out in Q4 2011 (on a calendar year basis). For Q2 2012, we maintain our view that the risks are tilted towards a rebound in GDP growth. Our FY 12/13 GDP growth forecast is 8 percent y/y versus 7 percent in FY 11/12.

RUPA REGE NITSURE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, BANK OF BARODA, MUMBAI

Today's data is dismal, and the full year's growth at 6.9 percent looks difficult. The country has started attracting more headwinds in the form of gyration in crude oil prices. So we should be prepared for worse numbers.

It puts all the more responsibility on this year's budget to act on sorting out the policy logjam and revive investment sentiment.

ANUBHUTI SAHAY, ECONOMIST, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, MUMBAI

Though headline GDP does not paint a pretty picture, improvement in private consumption is remarkable. Also investment (as assessed by gross fixed capital formation), though still in the contractionary territory, was not as bad as it was in Q2. Drag on the headline number thus emanated from weaker external demand. With domestic demand on a better footing in Q3 FY12 and slightly better news from various proxy indicators, we expect that the worst is behind us.

We maintain that RBI will reduce repo rate in its April policy meeting by 25 bps while the March meeting is likely to see a CRR cut of 50 bps.

MADAN SABNAVIS, CHIEF ECONOMIST, CARE RATINGS, MUMBAI

Given the slippages we are seeing in agriculture and manufacturing sectors, it will be difficult for GDP to recover ground in January-March period. Therefore, we could end up with FY12 growth in range of 6.50 to 7.0 percent.

On the monetary angle, the RBI is most likely to continue with liquidity boosting measures like further cuts to the cash reserve ratio in March policy review, than moving the repo rate.

This is because inflation remains a focus and there is a danger that the inflation trajectory could be affected by the oil price surge.

AMBAREESH BALIGA, CEO, WAY2WEALTH, MUMBAI

Industry growth at 2.6 percent is worrying and we could see a correction in the stock market, which is expected to remain volatile.

Impact on foreign inflows and investors will be minimum because the December quarter was expected to be one of the worst.

The current data should prompt an interest rate cut unless crude prices move up to $128-$130 per barrel before the monetary policy which will be a game spoiler.

SHUBHADA RAO, CHIEF ECONOMIST, YES BANK, MUMBAI

I would still think that we could manage a growth of somewhere around 6.9 percent for the full year. Probably, growth has bottomed out in this quarter. Typically, the last quarter shows some ramp-up in economic activity. Hence, we could see the GDP growth number getting better in the March quarter.

INDRANIL PAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, KOTAK MAHINDRA BANK, MUMBAI

GDP has come on expected lines. As anticipated, the mining is negative and manufacturing is very low. These were anyways factored in. Looking at the services sector, it is also slowing. We would expect this to be the bottom or close to the bottom and Q4 is likely at 6.1 percent too.

I expect RBI to factor in these growth dips and start cutting from April, first cut of 25 bps. But unlikely to be able to cut aggressively as inflation concerns persist.

RADHIKA RAO, ECONOMIST, FORECAST PTE, SINGAPORE

Q4 (2011) GDP came in slightly weaker than consensus, though not entirely surprising. Initial growth estimates for this FY had signalled that the agricultural output remained weak, though moderation in the manufacturing sector was likely the starkest as higher input prices and sharp jump in borrowing costs depressed output.

The ball is in the government's court now to kick start policy reforms to jump-start near-stalled private investments and produce a medium-term fiscal consolidation roadmap at the upcoming budget.

RBI for its part is expected to closely examine contents of the budget and begin easing rates in Q2 as WPI is largely expected to ease for next few months. Direction of oil prices on geopolitical risks however remain the wildcard.

(Reporting by treasury team; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)