China economy: First quarter growth beats expectations at 6.4%


China's economy grew slightly faster than expected in the three months to March, official figures released Wednesday showed.

The economy expanded at 6.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier, ahead of a Reuters forecast of 6.3%.

Beijing has taken steps to boost its slowing economy, including tax cuts, while trying not to inflate debt.

The world's second-largest economy also faces softer global demand for its products and a trade war with the US.

China's rate of growth is closely-watched for the potential knock-on effect on the global economy.

The latest growth figures were in line with the 6.4% rate posted in the last three months of 2018.

The result follow a sharp pick-up in factory output, with industrial production jumping to 8.5% in March.

Other data out Wednesday also showed improvement. Retail sales for March rose 8.7% on a year earlier, and fixed asset investment expanded to 6.3% from a year earlier.

While China watchers advise caution with Beijing's official GDP numbers, the data is seen as a useful indicator of the country's growth trajectory.

"There is no denying that China's economy ended the first quarter on a stronger note," Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said.

Beijing is forecasting slower growth of between 6% and 6.5% this year, down from a target of around 6.5% in 2018.

China's government has been pushing to shift away from export-led growth to depend more on domestic consumption.

Policymakers in China have stepped up efforts in recent monthRead More – Source

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