World Economy

China Q1 GDP growth accelerates at faster than expected 6.9% annual pace

Feng Li | Getty Images

China's economy grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, slightly faster than expected, supported by a government infrastructure spending spree and a frenzied housing market that is showing signs of overheating.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the economy to expand 6.8 percent in the first quarter, the same pace as in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The first-quarter growth pace was the fastest since the third quarter of 2015.

The government is aiming for growth of around 6.5 percent in 2017, slightly lower than last year's target of 6.5-7 percent and the actual 6.7 percent, which was the weakest pace in 26 years.

While China's data has been largely upbeat so far this year, many analysts widely expect the world's second-largest economy to lose steam later in the year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities step up their battle to rein in hot housing prices.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in January-March rose 1.3 percent quarter-on-quarter from the previous three months, compared with growth of 1.7 percent in October-December, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

Analysts had expected quarterly growth would ease marginally to 1.6 percent.