China’s economy slows amid signs of stabilising

Beijing, April 15 (IANS) China’s economy continued to slow in the first quarter of 2016 but several key indicators pointed to signs of stabilising, official data revealed on Friday.

The country’s GDP grew 6.7 percent year on year to reach 15.9 trillion yuan ($2.4 trillion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The growth further narrowed from the previous quarter’s 6.8 percent, which was already the lowest quarterly rate since the global financial crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, the figure was in line with market expectations and remained within the government’s targeted range of between 6.5 and 7 percent for 2016.

New growth momentum is gathering and some major indicators have seen positive changes, NBS spokesperson Sheng Laiyun said, calling the first-quarter performance “a good start” to this year.

Fixed-asset investment rose 10.7 percent year on year in the first quarter, a faster expansion than last year’s 10 percent. Investment in the property sector grew 6.2 percent, accelerating from 1 percent for the whole of 2015.

Industrial output expanded 5.8 percent, accelerating from the 5.4-percent increase for the January-February period.

The service sector grew 7.6 percent, outnumbering a 2.9-percent increase in the primary industry and 5.8 percent in the secondary industry.

It accounted for 56.9 percent of the overall economy, up 2 percentage points from a year earlier, Sheng said.

A prolonged industrial glut, sagging foreign trade and cooling property investment dragged down China’s growth in 2015 to 6.9 percent, the slowest pace in 25 years.

Authorities have taken a string of measures to mitigate the downshift, cutting interest rates, reducing taxes, slashing overcapacity and initiating reforms to improve efficiency.

Thanks to those moves, the economy has seen some improvement since the beginning of this year, with exports and industrial profits returning to growth, manufacturing activity picking up and power use accelerating.

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