China's 1Q economic growth ticks higher to 6.9 percent

21 Avril, 2017, 16:48 | Author: Marc Bacque

Growth during the three-month period was fuelled by a rapid rise in credit and infrastructure spending, but a rebound in factory output added to hopes of a more sustained recovery.

Fixed-asset investment in nonrural areas of China climbed 9.2% in the January-March period from a year earlier, quickening from an 8.9% increase over the January-February period.

This beat market expectations of 6.8% and came well above the annual growth target of around 6.5% set in this year's government work report.

"Things are pretty strong at the moment, but it's going to be hard to sustain this level of growth given how reliant it is on the state, which will have to pull back at some point", said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics.

"The question is whether this investment-led model is sustainable as the authorities have trouble taming credit. We need to watch closely whether China's top leadership will send a stronger signal to tighten monetary policy shortly". However, its economy continues to expand at impressive levels, particularly because, among other things, it is the world's second largest economy. Consumption has increased by 77.2 percent as compared to 64.6 percent during this year.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) accelerated at an annualized 6.9% in January-March, higher than the 6.8% forecast by economists, government data showed Monday.

- Many economists, however, believe the economy will soon lose steam, arguing that the impact of earlier stimulus measures will start to fade.

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A strong reading could help wobbly global financial markets but add to worries that China's government is still relying too heavily on old growth engines like stimulus and not doing enough to tackle risks from an explosive build-up in debt.

The total value of imports and exports in the first quarter of 2017 was 6,198.6 billion yuan, an increase of 21.8 percent year on year, while that of the whole of last year went down by 0.9 percent. Steps announced late previous year have proved largely ineffective in slowing the property rally juggernaut, but the accumulated measures are expected to curb price rises, construction activity and investment eventually.

- Moreover, more local governments are imposing tougher restrictions on property buying in a bid to cool speculation and overheated home prices.

"Sales (growth) has started falling, which means tightening measures are starting to take effect", said Shen Jianguang, an analyst at Mizuho Securities in Hong Kong.

The average new home prices rose slower year on year in all 15 first-tier and large second-tier cities.

"This is the most eye-catching of the macroeconomic data", said Xu Hongcai, an economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. But analysts say warning signs are flashing.

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