Q1 economic data: what the economists say

Updated: 2015-04-16 11:15


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China's economic growth fell to a six-year low of 7 percent in the first quarter, buffeted by sharp declines in industrial production and real estate construction, according to government data released Wednesday.

Economic figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics also showed that industrial output growth dropped to a post-crisis low of 5.6 percent in March, down from 6.8 percent in the first two months of the year and from 7.9 percent in December.

Fixed-asset investment growth dipped to a historic low of 13.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with the average of 15.7 percent last year, showing further weakness in the manufacturing and property sectors.

Year-on-year retail sales growth in March slowed to 10.2 percent, the lowest level since March 2006, compared with 10.7 percent in the first two months.

Here is what the economists say about China's Q1 economic figures:

GDP growth slowed to 7 percent in the first quarter, reflecting downward pressures from real estate weakness and lower export growth, cushioned by solid growth in consumption. Monthly data seems to suggest weaker growth than the GDP data does. Although we expect China's economy to end 2015 on a more benign note than it started, given the short term outlook and risks we think policymakers will further ease macro policy in the coming months to ensure that growth will remain around 7 percent.

Louis Kuijs, Chief Economist, Greater China of the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS), Hong Kong.

China's GDP growth came in on target in the first quarter. Slumping output in March, a slide into deflation and an expanding credit bubble underline the magnitude of the challenge the economy continues to face. We believe the weeks ahead will see the government intensifying efforts to support growth.

China's GDP growth came in spot on the government's 7 percent target in the first quarter. March numbers on industrial output, in contrast, point to a pronounced loss of momentum. We believe the industrial output numbers provide the more accurate guide, and the government is poised to accelerate efforts to support demand.

The economy stumbled into spring as March exports registered a surprise contraction. The latest in a series of weak growth numbers ratchets up pressure on policy makers to accelerate the pace of easing.

Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen, Bloomberg Economists