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China Economic Growth Steady In Q1

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China's economy grew at a stable pace in the first quarter of this year, defying expectations for a modest easing, led by robust investment, preliminary data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product grew 6.4 percent year-on-year, same as in the final three months of 2018. Economists had expected 6.3 percent growth.

In March, industrial production rose 8.5 percent year-on-year, which was faster than economists' forecast for a 5.9 percent gain.

Retail sales grew 8.7 percent year-on-year, topping expectations for an 8.4 percent increase.

Fixed asset investment expanded 6.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. Property investment surged 11.8 percent.

The surveyed jobless rate in urban areas eased to 5.2 percent in March from 5.2 percent in February.

"The national economy performed within an appropriate range in the first quarter, sustaining the momentum of progress in overall stability with growing positive factors, which laid a sound foundation for the stable and healthy economic development of the whole year," the NBS said.

"However, at the same time we should also be aware that given slowing global economic growth and international trade, increasing international uncertainties and prominent domestic structural issues, the task of reform and development is arduous and the economic downward pressure still persist."

ING economist Iris Pang said the impact of fiscal stimulus on infrastructure projects and 5G infrastructure production is the real growth engine that supported GDP growth in the first quarter.
 
The economist expects the trend to continue for the rest of the year.

"The production of 5G infrastructure, and the downstream of 5G equipment, should support both investment and industrial production," Pang said.

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