India's industrial output growth slowed to 3.6 percent from a year earlier in February, below analyst forecasts and far down on its 2010 peaks, official data showed on Monday. February's output was less than January's revised 3.95-percent annual growth and substantially lower than its 15.1-percent expansion in February 2010, when Asia's third-largest economy was emerging from the global downturn. Analysts had expected India's industrial growth in February to be around 5.2 percent. The below-expectation output comes after eight interest rate hikes in 12 months to tame stubborn inflation -- the most aggressive monetary tightening in Asia -- prompted manufacturers to scale back production. Manufacturing output, which accounts for 80 percent of the industrial index, rose 3.5 percent in February, down from 16.1 percent growth a year earlier. India's output performance contrasted with neighbouring China's industrial production, which expanded by 14.1 percent in the first two months of the year, compared with the same period in 2010. India's government expects the economy to expand by 9.0 percent this fiscal year, ending in March 2012, beating the previous year's 8.6 percent growth. But private economists say expansion may slacken to as low as 7.2 percent as resurgent oil prices, a stronger currency and further rate hikes take their toll. Such growth is high by Western standards but it is far below the double-digit levels India's government says are needed to raise living standards of the country's impoverished millions.