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China reports 5.3% GDP growth for Q1

By Ouyang Shijia| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: April 16, 2024 L M S

China's gross domestic product expanded by 5.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter after a 5.2 percent rise in the fourth quarter, official data showed on Tuesday, boding well for a steady economic recovery in the following months.

The country's GDP came in at 29.63 trillion yuan ($4.09 trillion) in the first quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, China's GDP grew by 1.6 percent in the first quarter, the NBS said.

"The Chinese economy is displaying more signs of recovery…led by the notable growth in exports and manufacturing," said Robin Xing, chief China economist at Morgan Stanley.

China's value-added industrial output grew by 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. The figure rose by 4.5 percent in March after a 7 percent growth in the first two months of the year, NBS data showed.

Retail sales, a key measurement of consumer spending, grew by 4.7 percent in the first quarter. And the retail sales in March increased by 3.1 percent versus the 5.5 percent growth in the first two months.

Fixed-asset investment - a gauge of expenditures on items including infrastructure, property, machinery and equipment – rose by 4.5 percent in the first three months, while in the first two months, it grew by 4.2 percent.

The surveyed urban jobless rate came in at 5.2 percent in March down from 5.3 percent in February, according to the NBS.

Looking forward, Xing said he anticipates China's second-quarter GDP to accelerate to over 5.5 percent year-on-year on a low base.

Morgan Stanley has recently revised China's 2024 real gross domestic product forecast up from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent, given the country's stronger-than-expected exports and manufacturing capital expenditure. It also raised its forecast for China's growth in 2025 to 4.5 percent from 4 percent given the higher entry point.

Two-thirds of the upward revision stems from stronger-than-expected exports, driven by resilient US demand and robust export volume amid soft prices. And the rest of the upward revision is due to manufacturing capital expenditure as the country doubles down on supply chain upgrades, with a focus on energy efficiency and digitalization, Morgan Stanley said in a report.

Xing said exports will remain a primary positive factor for China's growth in 2024 given the rebound in global demand, especially the stronger US demand. "I estimate that the export may grow by 5 percent to 10 percent this year."