China GDP data: Five key takeaways

China's third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report delivered an upside surprise, helping calm investor nerves over the faltering global recovery.

The world's second-largest economy expanded 7.3 percent in the July-September period, above the 7.2 percent forecast by analysts, but slowing from 7.5 percent expansion in the previous three months.

The GDP release was accompanied by a slew of other economic data points for September including industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales, which provided further clues on the health of the economy.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the latest round of data:

#1 China's economy remains resilient

Despite the deepening housing slump, economic conditions remain buoyant in large part owing to the government's targeted stimulus measures.

Since April, the government has periodically rolled out measures to prop up growth including faster spending of budget funds, tax cuts for some industries and infrastructure projects.

"These readings send a signal that the Chinese economy is still quite resilient and will continue to serve as a major driver rather than a drag for the global economy," said Ting Lu, chief China economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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#2 External demand is a bright spot

On top of stimulus, strengthening external demand alongside an expanding services sector has helped stabilize growth.

"Exports and services are helping to make up for some of the ground lost in terms of real estate market," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist at Credit Agricole.

Read MoreChina's exports surge in September; Imports also unexpectedly rise

Exports, a key driver of industrial production, surged 15.3 percent in September from the year-ago period after rising 9.4 percent in August.

#3 Growth target will be achieved

There's little doubt the government will fulfill its annual growth target of "around" 7.5 percent, say economists.

The big rebound in industrial production to 8.0 percent on year in September from 6.9 percent indicates positive momentum in the economy.

Read MoreChina should set lower GDP target of 6.5 - 7%: IMF

"We think the fourth quarter will be at least as good as third quarter or a bit better, helped by same drivers," said Kowalczyk, who forecasts 7.4 percent growth for both the fourth quarter and full year.

#4 Aggressive stimulus not needed

Policymakers can rest easy, for now.

The data suggest there is no need for the government to step up easing beyond the sorts of targeted measures it has been rolling out this year, say economists.

Read MoreChina's RRR cut whets the appetite for easing

An interest rate cut is likely off the table for now, said Kowalczyk, who sees a continuation of measures including targeted reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cut and broader use of various forms of re-lending and short-term financing.

#5 Housing market is the weakest link

While policymakers appear to be pulling off a managed slowdown, the shaky property market remains a threat to economic stability.

Growth in real-estate investment slowed in the first nine months of 2014, while property sales and new construction tumbled.

Real estate investment rose 12.5 percent in January-September from a year earlier, down from 13.2 percent in the first eight months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. Meantime, revenue from property sales dropped 8.9 percent during the same period, while new construction fell 9.3 percent.

Read MoreChina's property rescue package: Will it work?

"The housing sector is still the key risk in China. Residential fixed asset investment continues to soften, and I don't see that picking up anytime soon," said Tommy Xie, economist at OCBC Bank. "While the government has unveiled a number of measures, buyers still remain cautious and it will take some time for them to decide whether they want to re-enter the market."

It remains to be seen whether the measures will be effective in stimulating the demand needed to revive investment in the sector, he added.