China’s GDP up 6.1 percent in first quarter

Beijing, April 16 (Inditop) China’s economy expanded by 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, official data showed Thursday.

The quarterly growth rate was the lowest in 10 years as the global financial crisis continued to affect the world’s fastest-growing economy.

It was 4.5 percentage points lower than the first quarter of 2008 and down 0.7 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Gross domestic product (GDP) reached 6.5745 trillion yuan ($939 billion) in the first quarter, Li Xiaochao, spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said at a press conference.

He said the government’s stimulus measures had produced positive results and the first quarter performance was better than expected.

First-quarter industrial output grew 5.1 percent year-on-year with a rise of 8.3 percent in March. Fixed asset investment rose 28.8 percent year-on-year to 2.81 trillion yuan.

Agriculture production was expected to continue increasing. The acreage of grain crops for the whole year was forecast to rise for a sixth consecutive year and reach 1.08 trillion hectares.

Retail sales grew 15 percent to 2.94 trillion yuan. The consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, fell 1.2 percent year-on-year in March.

Foreign trade dropped 24.9 percent to $428.7 billion. Exports were down 19.7 percent to $245.5 billion. Imports slumped 30.9 percent to $183.2 billion.

Actually used foreign direct investment stood at $21.8 billion, which is $5.6 billion lower compared to the same period last year.

In the first two months, the number of newly employed in urban areas reached 1.62 million, 210,000 fewer than the same period of 2008.

The per capita disposable income of urban residents rose 10.2 percent to 4,834 yuan for the first quarter. Deducting price factors, the increase reached 11.2 percent. The income of rural residents also climbed 8.6 percent to 1,622 yuan.

The country’s bank credit also grew in the first quarter. The narrow measure of money supply, M1 (cash in circulation plus corporate current deposits), was up 17.0 percent year-on-year to 17.7 trillion yuan.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves rose 16 percent year-on-year to $1.9537 trillion by the end of March.