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China’s economy grows 4.5% in Q1, highest in a year

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.5% from a year ago in the first quarter of 2023, much above market forecasts of 4%, according to flash data released on Tuesday.

This was the strongest growth since the first quarter of last year, largely due to China’s reopening and lifting of strict COVID-19 curbs that were in place for nearly three years.

The figure accelerated from 2.9% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

On a quarterly basis, the world’s second-largest economy grew 2.2% in the January-March period, picking up from an upwardly revised 0.6% in October-December.

In 2022, China’s GDP increased by 3.3%, less than the government’s target of 5.5%.

Retail sales, a key driver of China’s growth, jumped 10.6% in March, marking the strongest rebound since June 2021 and exceeding expectations due to an uptick in consumer confidence.

Industrial output increased 3.9% in March, slightly lower than market forecasts of 4%.

China’s overall urban unemployment rate fell to a seven-month low of 5.3% in March from 5.6% in February, the data showed.

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