(Reuters) - India's fuel demand in September rose for the first time since June as easing coronavirus restrictions supported economic activity and travel, but consumption remained weaker than a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.
Consumption of refined fuels, a proxy for oil demand, rose 7.2% in September from the prior month to 15.47 million tonnes, the first monthly increase since June when demand rose to 16.09 million tonnes.
However, demand fell 4.4% from the same period a year earlier, posting its seventh consecutive year-on-year slide, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.
India's Sept fuel sales rise for the first time since June https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/bdwpkkokqpm/Capture.PNG
India's daily number of coronavirus infections has slowed since hitting a single-day high of 97,894 new cases on Sept. 17, a sign that infections were peaking for now.
The country's factory activity also expanded at its fastest pace in more than eight years in September, even as layoffs continued.
Demand in August was the weakest since April, hurt by a throttling of economic activity and transport due to restrictions.
Diesel consumption, a key parameter linked to economic growth and which accounts for about 40% of overall refined fuel sales in India, rose 13.2% to 5.49 million tonnes last month from 4.85 million tonnes in August.
However, on an annual basis, demand for diesel declined about 6%.
Sales of gasoline, or petrol, rose by 3.3% from a year earlier to 2.45 million tonnes, and by 2.9% from 2.38 million tonnes in August.
India's petrol and diesel demand picks up in September https://graphics.reuters.com/INDIA-FUEL/DEMAND/qmyvmbdbrpr/chart.png
Cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sales increased by 4.8% to 2.27 million tonnes from a year earlier, while naphtha sales rose 2.9% to 1.14 million tonnes and by 5.7% from August.
Sales of bitumen, used for making roads, rose 38.3% from last year, and fuel oil decreased by 7.4% and by about 4.1% month-on-month.
(Reporting by Sumita Layek and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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