China growth surpasses expectations

China's economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected pace of 6.

Reuters and Janice Huang

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China's economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected pace of 6.8 percent in the first quarter, buoyed by strong consumer demand and robust property investment.

Resilience in the world's second-largest economy will likely keep a synchronized global recovery on track for a while longer, even as China faces rising tensions with the United States that could impact billions of US dollars in trade.

But economists still expect China to lose momentum in the coming quarters as Beijing forces local governments to scale back infrastructure projects to contain their debt, and as property sales cool further due to strict government controls on purchases to fight speculation.

Consumption, which accounted for almost 80 percent of economic growth in the first quarter, played a significant role in supporting the economy even as risks grew for Chinese exporters.

March retail sales rose 10.1 percent from a year earlier, slightly more than expected and the strongest pace in four months, with consumers buying more of almost everything from cosmetics to furniture and home appliances.

The country also continued to see a stable job market in the first quarter this year, with the unemployment rate at a relatively low level, official data showed yesterday.

From January to March, the monthly surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas was 5.0 percent, 5.0 percent, and 5.1 percent, respectively, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Beijing meanwhile posted its fastest property investment growth in three years in the first quarter, driven by a surge in land values and as developers grew more confident about the policy outlook. However, sales slowed as existing curbs hit transactions.