China's economy registered record growth in the first quarter of 2021, largely due to the extremely low base of comparison as the pandemic struck the economy in the same period last year.
Gross domestic product advanced 18.3 percent on a yearly basis in the first quarter, much faster than the 6.5 percent growth posted in the preceding quarter, data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed on Friday.
Nonetheless, this was slower than economists' growth forecast of 19 percent. The government targets to achieve above 6 percent economic growth for the whole year of 2021.
Quarter-on-quarter, GDP gained 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021 but weaker than the forecast of 1.5 percent.
The upshot is that with the economy already above its pre-virus trend and policy support being withdrawn, China's post-COVID rebound is levelling off, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The economist expects sequential growth to remain moderate during the rest of this year as the recent boom in construction and exports unwind, pulling activity back towards trend.
Data showed that industrial production surged 14.1 percent year-on-year, but slower than the expected expansion of 17.2 percent.
Similarly, retail sales surged 34.2 percent on year versus the expected growth of 28 percent.
Fixed asset investment increased 25.6 percent from the same period last year compared to a 25 percent rise economists had forecast.
The jobless rate dropped to 5.3 percent in March, data showed.
Iris Pang, an economist at ING said activity data shows that China is on a recovery path. The main risk concerns chip shortages, which could limit production and export growth in the coming quarters.