China has reported lower than expected economic growth of 7.7% for the first quarter of 2013, disappointing expectations that the rate was set to pick up on the back of ample credit, strong infrastructure spending and firm exports.
The rate represented a slowdown from Q412, when gross domestic product rose 7.9% year-on-year and compared with analyst expectations that it would tick upwards to 8%.
The figure was accompanied by disappointing industrial output data for March, when the rate of growth dropped to 8.9%, the lowest pace of expansion since August 2012, when fears were widespread that China’s economy might be heading for a ‘hard landing’.
Over the first three months of 2013 industrial production grew 9.5%, half a percentage point lower than a year earlier while retail sales rose 12.4% in Q113, a drop of 1.9 percentage points from last year.
Chinese authorities indicated that they were not overly concerned by the figures. “Our overall judgment is that, although there was a slight dip in growth in the first quarter, it was generally speaking a steady start with stable progress,” said Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman for the Chinese statistics bureau, during a televised news conference in Beijing.
“China’s basic circumstances have not undergone any fundamental shift, and it still has the conditions for maintaining sustained and healthy economic development over the long term.”
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