China’s Q1 GDP Drops to Six-year Low

China’s annual economic growth slowed to a six-year low of 7.0 percent in the first quarter as demand stayed weak, meeting analyst forecasts but fanning expectations that authorities will roll out more policy stimulus to avert a sharper slowdown.  In the last quarter of 2014, China’s economy grew 7.3 percent on an annual basis.

On a quarterly basis, economic growth slowed to 1.3 percent between January and March after seasonal adjustments, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, compared with growth of 1.5 percent in the previous three months.  March factory output rose 5.6 percent from a year earlier, below the 6.9 percent seen in a Reuters poll, its lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Fixed asset investment, a key driver of the economy, grew 13.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the weakest expansion in the first three months of a year since 2000.  More bad news came from another major economic pillar, the real estate sector. Despite recent easing measures to boost mortgage borrowing and ease restrictions on housing purchases, property investment rose only 8.5 percent in the first quarter, down from 10.4 percent growth rate seen in the Jan-Feb period, which was a five-year low.