China's economic growth slowed in the first quarter to 6.7 percent, largely in line with expectations, but its slowest pace since the global financial crisis. The report showed that the annualized growth rate for the world's second-largest economy ticked lower from the previous quarter's 6.8 percent.
The Chinese economy is undergoing a prolonged slowdown as the country's leaders steer it away from a growth model based on export manufacturing and investment toward one focused on more sustainable services and private consumption. The latest numbers matched most economists' expectations and suggest the economy is on track to meet the official full-year growth target of 6.5 to 7 percent.
Fixed asset investment expanded 10.7 percent in the January-March period while industrial output grew 5.8 percent, according to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. Inflation came in at 2.1 percent.
The report corroborates other recent evidence that China's economy may be stabilizing. Exports grew for the first time since last summer in March, in annual terms, while private and official surveys of factory purchasing managers showed activity rebounded strongly. Auto sales jumped by 10 percent.
While China's economy has slowed from the breakneck, double-digit boom of the previous decade, it remains a key driver of world economic growth. On Tuesday the International Monetary Fund trimmed its outlook for global growth, lowering it to 3.2 percent from 3.4 percent forecast in January, while at the same time citing China as one of the few bright spots thanks to its resilient consumer spending and thriving service industries.