20190418_China_Growth_Quarter_IBT This chart shows China's quarterly real GDP growth since Q1 2000. Photo: IBT / Statista

The National Bureau of Statistics of China released a slew of economic data on Wednesday, including the highly-anticipated official update on GDP growth for the first quarter of 2019. According to preliminary estimates, China’s economy grew by 6.4 percent in the first three months of the year, matching the previous quarter’s growth rate at the lowest level in nearly 30 years. While this doesn’t sound great, most analysts had expected worse from the announcement, which is why the stabilization of growth at last quarter’s level was actually received well by markets around the world. 

The better-than-expected results were fueled by a steep increase in industrial production and healthy consumer demand, both beating consensus estimates by a significant margin and thus averting a further slowdown of the world’s second-largest economy. Analysts are attributing the stabilization of China’s struggling economy to an extensive stimulus package including tax cuts and ramped up infrastructure spending but remain cautious on whether it signals the start of a sustained turnaround. 

The National Bureau of Statistics of China, while pointing out the positive aspects of today’s announcements, also warns of “persistent economic downward pressure”, attributing the challenging environment to “slowing global economic growth and international trade, increasing international uncertainties and prominent domestic structural issues”.