Home World Business China Q1 GDP grows faster than expected 6.9%, steel output hits record

China Q1 GDP grows faster than expected 6.9%, steel output hits record

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China’s central bank shifted to a tightening bias using targeted measures to contain financial risks

Reuters  |  Beijing  April 17, 2017 Last Updated at 08:59 IST

China’s grew 6.9 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, slightly faster than expected, supported by a infrastructure spending spree and a frenzied housing market that is showing signs of overheating.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the to expand 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, the same pace as in the fourth quarter of 2016.

First-quarter growth was the fastest since the third quarter of 2015, with March data showing investment, retail sales, factory output and exports all grew faster than expected.

The strong reading should help underpin wobbly global financial markets but adds to worries that China’s is still relying too heavily on stimulus and “old economy” growth drivers and is not doing enough to tackle risks from an explosive build-up in debt.

While China’s data has been largely upbeat so far this year, many analysts widely expect the world’s second-largest to lose steam later in the year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities step up their battle to rein in hot housing prices.

Real estate investment growth accelerated to 9.1 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, as the pace of new construction starts quickened despite intensified cooling measures.

Though policymakers have pledged repeatedly to push reforms to head off financial risks and asset bubbles, the is seeking to keep the world’s second-largest on an even keel ahead of a major leadership transition later this year.

The is aiming for growth of around 6.5 per cent in 2017, slightly lower than last year’s target of 6.5-7 per cent and the actual 6.7 per cent, which was the weakest pace in 26 years.

Economic data was up across the board in March, with factory output increasing at the fastest pace since December 2014 and firms stepping up capital investments after a slowdown last year.

Industrial output rose 7.6 per cent in March, with steel output the highest on record, according to Reuters data, adding to evidence of a global manufacturing revival that is buoying prices of industrial materials from iron ore to coking coal.

But consumption also appears to be picking up, contributing to 77.2 per cent of first-quarter growth, while retail sales growth picked up to 10.9 per cent after slowing in the first two months of the year.

Still, many analysts expect economic growth to cool later this year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities resort to ever-tougher measures in a bid to get soaring home prices under control.

also is continuing to rely heavily on new credit to generate growth as productivity slows, despite worries about debt risks.

China’s banks extended the third highest loans on record in the first quarter, though March lending was less than expected.

At the same time, China’s central bank has shifted to a tightening bias, and is using more targeted measures to contain risks in the financial system, after years of ultra-loose settings.

It has raised short-term interest rates several times already this year, and further modest hikes are expected as it tries to coax debt-laden firms to reduce leverage.

China Q1 GDP grows faster than expected 6.9%, steel output hits record

China’s central bank shifted to a tightening bias using targeted measures to contain financial risks

China’s central bank shifted to a tightening bias using targeted measures to contain financial risks

China’s grew 6.9 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, slightly faster than expected, supported by a infrastructure spending spree and a frenzied housing market that is showing signs of overheating.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the to expand 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, the same pace as in the fourth quarter of 2016.

First-quarter growth was the fastest since the third quarter of 2015, with March data showing investment, retail sales, factory output and exports all grew faster than expected.

The strong reading should help underpin wobbly global financial markets but adds to worries that China’s is still relying too heavily on stimulus and “old economy” growth drivers and is not doing enough to tackle risks from an explosive build-up in debt.

While China’s data has been largely upbeat so far this year, many analysts widely expect the world’s second-largest to lose steam later in the year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities step up their battle to rein in hot housing prices.

Real estate investment growth accelerated to 9.1 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, as the pace of new construction starts quickened despite intensified cooling measures.

Though policymakers have pledged repeatedly to push reforms to head off financial risks and asset bubbles, the is seeking to keep the world’s second-largest on an even keel ahead of a major leadership transition later this year.

The is aiming for growth of around 6.5 per cent in 2017, slightly lower than last year’s target of 6.5-7 per cent and the actual 6.7 per cent, which was the weakest pace in 26 years.

Economic data was up across the board in March, with factory output increasing at the fastest pace since December 2014 and firms stepping up capital investments after a slowdown last year.

Industrial output rose 7.6 per cent in March, with steel output the highest on record, according to Reuters data, adding to evidence of a global manufacturing revival that is buoying prices of industrial materials from iron ore to coking coal.

But consumption also appears to be picking up, contributing to 77.2 per cent of first-quarter growth, while retail sales growth picked up to 10.9 per cent after slowing in the first two months of the year.

Still, many analysts expect economic growth to cool later this year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities resort to ever-tougher measures in a bid to get soaring home prices under control.

also is continuing to rely heavily on new credit to generate growth as productivity slows, despite worries about debt risks.

China’s banks extended the third highest loans on record in the first quarter, though March lending was less than expected.

At the same time, China’s central bank has shifted to a tightening bias, and is using more targeted measures to contain risks in the financial system, after years of ultra-loose settings.

It has raised short-term interest rates several times already this year, and further modest hikes are expected as it tries to coax debt-laden firms to reduce leverage.

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Reuters

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