Economy expands faster than expected
THE economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter as China’s industrial output and consumption picked up and investment remained strong, though analysts expect slower growth over the rest of the year as policymakers seek to reduce financial risk.
The economy grew 6.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the same rate as the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday. Analysts had expected the economy to expand 6.8 percent in the April-June quarter.
Growth in China’s economy this year has beaten expectations as exports recover and property construction remains strong, though many analysts expect the world’s second-largest economy to lose steam later in the year as policy measures to rein in red-hot housing prices and a rapid buildup in debt take a greater toll on growth.
“Overall, the economy continued to show steady progress in the first half ... but international instability and uncertainties are still relatively large, and the domestic long-term buildup of structural imbalances remains,” the NBS said in a statement.
The government is aiming for growth of around 6.5 percent in 2017, slightly lower than last year’s actual 6.7 percent, which was the weakest pace in 26 years.
China’s factory output grew 7.6 percent in June from a year earlier, the fastest pace in three months, while fixed-asset investment expanded 8.6 percent in the first six months of the year, both beating forecasts.
Retail sales rose 11 percent in June from a year earlier, the fastest pace since December 2015 and beating analysts’ expectations for a 10.6 percent rise.
An upturn in global demand for Chinese products could be a boon for the country’s leaders as they seek to contain a buildup in debt that has ballooned to 277 percent of GDP.
“(The new data) is encouraging for global growth as well because China is the second-largest economy on the planet,” said Craig James, chief economist at Commonwealth Securities in Sydney.
“Based on this data, there is no need for easing and no need really for tightening either because inflationary pressures are very much contained. So I think the People’s Bank of China just continues to be watchful.”
Data last week showed both China’s exports and imports rose faster-than-expected in June from a year ago, which could offset weakness in other parts of economy in the second quarter.
China’s more modest growth target of around 6.5 percent for 2017 theoretically offers more wiggle room for reforms after the economy grew 6.7 percent in 2016 — the weakest pace in 26 years.
China’s economic growth is expected to cool further to 6.6 percent in 2017, according to a poll of analysts, with the pace of expansion slowing steadily in the third and fourth quarter.