BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - China’s better-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter of this year was backed by a pickup in construction and manufacturing, official data showed on Wednesday.
The construction and manufacturing sector grew 6.3 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from a 5.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter, according to more detailed data released by the National Bureau of Statistics a day after quarterly GDP.
China’s economy expanded 6.8 percent in January-March, beating expectations for a 6.7 percent gain, riding on the coat-tails of robust property investment and resilient consumer demand.
But economists still expect China to lose momentum in coming quarters as Beijing forces local governments to pare back infrastructure projects to contain their debt, and as property sales cool further due to strict government controls on purchases to fight speculation.
More than 100 cities have introduced some measures to cool home prices. Still, analysts expect moderate price appreciation in China’s vast number of smaller centres where regulations are less restrictive.
China’s construction and manufacturing accounted for 39 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter, in line with its 41 percent share in the previous quarter, according to Reuters calculations based on the statistics bureau data.
The services sector continued to be the biggest contributor to GDP, accounting for 57 percent of China’s economic output in the first quarter.
Services grew 7.5 percent from a year earlier, slowing from 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter, while agriculture expanded 3.2 percent in January-March, easing from the 4.4 pace in the previous three months.
Real estate grew 4.9 percent in the first quarter, marginally faster than the 4.8 percent pace in the previous quarter.
Accommodation and catering expanded 7.0 percent, little changed from 7.1 percent growth in October-December.
The retail and wholesale sector slowed slightly to 6.8 percent growth from 6.9 percent in the previous quarter.
The tech sector sustained its double-digit growth in the first quarter, though its pace slowed slightly to 29.2 percent from 33.8 percent in October-December. (Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)