India says trade deficit 'ballooning'

India on Friday said its trade deficit was "ballooning" after imports sharply outpaced exports last month.

Imports accelerated by 21 percent to $40 billion in February from a year earlier, mainly driven by oil purchases, while merchandise exports grew by by a much slower 4.3 percent to $24.6 billion, hit by weak global markets.

"There is a large ballooning of the trade deficit," India's Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said in New Delhi.

The government raised its trade deficit forecast for the financial year to March 31 to $175 billion-$180 billion from $160 billion projected earlier. The trade gap totalled $104 billion last year.

Khullar told reporters that exports for the current fiscal year could undershoot the government's initial $300-billion target by a few billion dollars.

The bigger projected trade gap could also widen the current account deficit -- the total sum of trade and investment flows, analysts said.

Last month, the government forecast the trade gap would be 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, the worst performance in nearly in a decade.

The slowing export figures come on top of a raft of other disappointing Indian economic indicators.

Recent data showed that the economy expanded by an annual 6.1 percent in the final quarter of 2011, the slowest pace in three years.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 11 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 12 hours ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 15 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.