Indian industrial output rises surprise 8.2% in October

India's industrial output climbed by a surprising 8.2 percent from a year ago in October, data showed Wednesday, providing a first strong sign that the worst may be over for Asia's third-largest economy.

The industrial production figures marked a big improvement from a revised contraction of 0.7 percent in September and far outpaced market expectations of a five-percent rise, according to a Dow Jones Newswires poll.

The increase was helped by a weak base in October 2011 when production contracted five percent, but output of consumer goods climbed 13.2 percent, suggesting improving demand.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is keen to revive the economy with general elections due in 2014, announced a string of reforms in September, opening up retail and other sectors to wider foreign investment to drive the economy.

Singh said he planned to press ahead with reforms even though the recent reform blitz has already cost the government its parliamentary majority with the exit of a key ally, and stirred a huge opposition from lawmakers.

Economic growth has been stuck at around three-year lows with India posting expansion of 5.3 percent in the quarter to September.

The figures come as India has been struggling to avoid a downgrade by ratings agencies of its sovereign debt to junk status.

The once-booming South Asian economy has been hit by continuing high interest rates in the face of stubbornly strong inflation, sluggish exports as the global economy is still struggling and slow investment.

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