Despite the impact of Covid lockdowns in sections of the country in March, China’s first-quarter GDP expanded faster than projected, according to figures provided by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
GDP increased by 4.8% in the first quarter, exceeding estimates of a 4.4% growth from the year earlier.
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Fixed asset investment increased 9.3% year over year in the first quarter, exceeding forecasts of 8.5% growth. In March, industrial production increased by 5%, exceeding expectations of 4.5% growth.
Retail sales, on the other hand, declined by 3.5% in March, which was higher than predicted. A 1.6% drop was predicted by analysts polled by Reuters.
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Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the government has fought to contain its worst Covid outbreak, which began in March. Lockdowns in more than half of the country caused a 6.8% drop in first-quarter growth from the previous year.
In March, the urban unemployment rate increased to 5.8%, up from 5.5% in February. The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 years old remained significantly higher, at 16%.
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Retail sales increased by 3.3% year over year in the first quarter, but decreases were still seen in the apparel, automobiles, and furniture segments.
Jewellery sales were down the most among retail categories in March, falling 17.9% from a year ago. According to the data, it was followed by a 16.4% drop in catering and a 12.7% drop in shoes and apparel.
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Although economic data for January and February exceeded expectations, data for March has begun to reveal the impact of stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions in and around economic hubs such as Shanghai.
According to figures released last week, China’s exports increased by a higher-than-expected 14.7% in March, but imports unexpectedly decreased by 0.1% from a year ago.