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China’s Q1 GDP Tops Expectations, March Retail Sales Fall

The exterior of Shanghai's new JC Plaza development, in the downtown shopping district of Nanjing Xi Lu.
The city of Shanghai has been almost completely locked down for almost three weeks, and more economic fallout is expected. (Yang Renkai)

Chinese consumption took a hit last month as Covid-19 curbs began to bite, with retail sales declining for the first time in two years.

In a data dump Monday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 4.8 percent, beating analysts polled by Reuters, who had expected a gain of 4.4 percent.

Data for March showed retail sales contracting the most on an annual basis since April 2020, falling 3.5 percent year-on-year, worse than expectations for a 1.6 percent decrease and coming off an increase of 6.7 percent for the months of January and February combined (data for January and February are often bundled together in China because the period coincides with the Lunar New Year holidays).

“We will step up the implementation of macro policies, make every effort to stabilise the economic fundamentals, and strive to achieve the targets and tasks for the year,” NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui told a press conference.

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