China's economic growth passes predictions

GDP growth in the first three months, marking the quickest pace since the last quarter of 2015, was 0.1 percentage point higher than the 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

Beijing has set a slightly more modest growth target of around 6.5 percent for this year, theoretically offering more wiggle room for reforms after the economy grew 6.7 percent in 2016 - the weakest pace in 26 years.

"Generally speaking, the national economy has continued with stable and sound momentum in the first quarter as growth rebounded moderately and economic adjustment was steadily promoted", the spokesperson said.

The labor market has been holding up too: The surveyed jobless rate fell in March from February, while the level in big cities was below 5 per cent at end of last month, the NBS said.

"Thanks to strong investment and property, the economy is performing well".

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Mao Shengyong, a spokesperson for the statistics bureau, said the first quarter figures were indicative of an economy growing at its fastest rate in a year and a half.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) accelerated at an annualized 6.9% in January-March, higher than the 6.8% forecast by economists, government data showed Monday.

FAI includes capital spent on infrastructure, property, machinery and other physical assets. The total value added from the tertiary sector accounted for 56.5% of the nation's GDP.

"That said, the construction led boom across the middle of 2016 might result in some cooling in growth in coming quarters, and therefore our forecasts are unchanged, with growth of 6.5 per cent in 2017", NAB said. The result, analysts said, has laid a solid foundation for the country to achieve its growth target of at least 6.5 percent this year.

In March, industrial production expanded 7.6 per cent year on year, NBS data showed.

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The country's economy grew 6.7% in the previous year, the slowest since 1990.

While we should always remain sceptical of the Chinese government's GDP data, these figures suggest that growth is stabilising.

Analysts are closely watching for signs that consumption is accounting for a greater share of China's economy, which would make growth more broad based but also reduce the need for more debt-fuelled stimulus and reliance on "smokestack" industries. These included a broadening of the areas where limits on home purchases apply, an increase in down payment requirements and a requirement that prohibits homes from being resold within two years of purchase.

Improvements in industrial production, investment and exports have combined to bolster the economy in that period, the China Daily quoted the bureau as saying.

China's reported growth contrasts with the United States releasing disappointing retail sales and consumer price figures on Friday (April 14).

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This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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