GDP growth of 18.3% year-on-year in the first quarter was the strongest since China began keeping records in 1992, and was driven by a surge in retail sales, industrial production and investment in fixed assets.

The big jump reflects the deep slump in activity in early 2020 but it keeps China on track for growth of between 8% and 9% in 2021, economists said, far ahead of the Chinese government’s official target of more than 6%.

“We are fully confident that we can maintain the current recovery momentum throughout the year,” said Liu Aihua, a spokeswoman for the National Bureau of Statistics at a press conference in Beijing on Friday.

First quarter retail sales jumped 34% from a year ago, while fixed-asset investment in urban areas gained nearly 26%. Industrial production increased by more than 24%.

“Growth remains pretty strong at this stage as Covid losers such as consumption and [capital expenditures]are catching up,” said Larry Hu,…

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