China’s economy grew 6.3 per cent in the second quarter, lower than expected as momentum slows


China’s economy grew at a 6.3 per cent annual pace in the April-June quarter, much lower than analysts had forecast given the slow pace of growth the year before.

The world’s second-largest economy is expected to slow further in coming months given slack consumer demand in China and weaker demand for Chinese exports in other economies as their post-pandemic recoveries lose momentum.

The 6.3 per cent growth in China’s gross domestic product from April to June outpaced a 4.5 per cent rate of growth in the previous quarter, according to government data released Monday.

In quarterly terms, the economy grew 0.8 per cent compared to the first three months of the year.

The still robust growth is largely due to the economy growing just 0.4 per cent a year earlier amid strict lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities during major outbreaks of COVID-19.

Analysts had forecasted growth for the quarter that ended in June to exceed 7 per cent.

China’s GDP in the first quarter beat expectations and grew by 4.5 per cent as consumers flocked to shopping malls and restaurants after nearly three years of “zero-COVID” restrictions were removed in late 2022.

Earlier this year, China’s government set this year’s economic growth target at “around 5 per cent,” a conservative goal that will only be met if GDP grows faster in the months ahead.

Data released earlier showed exports declined 12.4 per cent in June from a year earlier as global demand faltered after central banks in U.S. and Europe raised interest rates to curb inflation.

Retail sales, an indicator of consumer demand, in June rose 3.1 per cent from the same period in 2022.

Industrial production output, which measures activity in the manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors, beat analyst’s expectations, rising by 4.4 per cent in June compared to the same month a year earlier.

China’s policymakers are not having to fight inflation, but may end up having to contend with its opposite, deflation, or falling prices due to weak demand. In recent months, the authorities have tried to spur lending and spending, with mixed success.

Fixed-asset investment — spending on infrastructure and other projects to drive growth — rose by a still tepid 3.8 per cent for the first half of 2023 compared to the same period of 2022.

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