China’s economy grew 6.7 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, meeting expectations and at its slowest pace in seven years, although other indicators show the slowdown in the world’s second largest economy may be bottoming out.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 6.7 per cent, easing slightly from 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter and marking the slowest rate of growth since the first quarter of 2009, when growth tumbled to 6.2 per cent.
China’s economy grew 6.9 per cent in 2015, its weakest rate in a quarter of a century.
Analysts polled by Reuters expect the economy will lose more momentum this year, forecasting growth will cool to 6.5 per cent even if Beijing ramps up fiscal spending and cuts interest rates again.
However, other activity data published on Friday suggested China’s economy may be steadying as a flurry of government measures begin to take effect.
China’s fixed-asset investment growth quickened to 10.7 per cent year-on-year in the Jan-March period, beating market expectations for 10.3 per cent.
Industrial output growth leapt up to 6.8 per cent, surprising analysts who expected it to rise 5.9 per cent on an annual basis after a rise of 5.4 per cent in Jan-Feb.
Retail sales growth quickened to 10.5 per cent, while Chinese banks extended 1,370 billion yuan ($211.23 billion) in net new yuan loans in March, exceeding analyst expectations and the previous month’s lending of 726.6 billion yuan.
March export figures released earlier this week also staged an unexpected recovery, although some economists caution that seasonal effects from last year’s late Lunar New Year holiday could be a factor.
Capital outflows, a major concern at the end of 2015, also appear to have eased in recent months along with the dollar’s rise.