Home World Business China’s first quarter growth beats expectations at 6.9%

China’s first quarter growth beats expectations at 6.9%

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An ethnic minority man poses for a selfie on Tiananmen Square outside the Great Hall of the People ahead of the opening session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, 5 MarchImage copyright Reuters

China’s economy grew by 6.9% in the first quarter of 2017, according to official figures.

The growth rate, which compares expansion with the same three months in the previous year, was slightly higher than many economists had forecast.

State-led infrastructure spending and demand for new property helped drive the world’s second largest economy.

Last month China cut its growth target for this year to 6.5% from 6.7% in 2016.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics in a statement said “the national economy maintained the momentum of steady and sound development from the second half of last year, getting off to a good start in 2017 and laying a solid foundation for accomplishing the whole-year growth target.”

Another set of data also suggests a pick-up in domestic consumption. February retail sales jumped 10.9% from the previous year.

China is a key driver of the global economy and its performance is closely watched by investors around the world. Its 2016 growth was its slowest in in 26 years.

Beijing’s aim to rebalance the economy towards domestic consumption has led to major challenges for large manufacturing sectors, and there have been layoffs – especially in heavily staffed state-run sectors such as the steel industry.

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