China’s first quarter GDP beats expectations to grow 4.8% year-on-year

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A traffic police officer prepares to check a truck at a service station near Shanghai, which has ordered tighter restrictions on travel in and out of the city as China battles its most severe Covid outbreak since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.
Yin Liqin | China News Service via Getty Images

BEIJING — China’s first quarter GDP grew faster than expected despite the impact of Covid lockdowns in parts of the country in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics Monday.

First quarter GDP rose by 4.8%, topping expectations of a 4.4% increase from a year ago.
However, retail sales in March fell by a more-than-expected 3.5% from a year earlier. Analysts polled by Reuters anticipated a 1.6% decline.

Fixed asset investment for the first quarter rose by 9.3% from a year ago, topping expectations for 8.5% growth.

Industrial production in March rose by 5%, beating the forecast for 4.5% growth.

The urban unemployment rate ticked higher in March to 5.8%, up from 5.5% in February. The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 remained far higher at 16%.

Beginning in March, the country has struggled to contain its worst Covid outbreak since the initial phase of the pandemic in 2020. Back then, lockdowns across more than half the country resulted in a 6.8% contraction in first quarter growth from a year earlier.

Although economic figures released for January and February beat expectations, figures for March have begun to reflect the impact of stay-home orders and travel restrictions around economic centers like the coastal metropolis of Shanghai.

Exports, a major driver of China’s growth, rose by a more-than-expected 14.7% in March, but imports unexpectedly fell, down by 0.1% from a year ago, according to data released last week.

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