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China's GDP up 6.1% in Q1 2009

CHINA'S economy expanded by 6.1 percent year on year in the first quarter, official data showed today.

The quarterly growth rate was the lowest in 10 years as the global financial crisis continued to affect the world's fastest-growing economy. It was 4.5 percentage points lower than the first quarter of 2008 and down 0.7 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Gross domestic product (GDP) reached 6.5745 trillion yuan (US$939 billion) in the first quarter, Li Xiaochao, spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told a press conference.

He said the government's stimulus measures had produced positive results and the first quarter performance was better than expected.

First-quarter industrial output grew 5.1 percent year on year with a rise of 8.3 percent in March. Fixed asset investment rose 28.8 percent year-on-year to 2.81 trillion yuan.

Agriculture production was expected to continue increasing. The acreage of grain crops for the whole year was forecast to rise for a sixth consecutive year and reach 1.08 trillion hectares.

Retail sales grew 15 percent to 2.94 trillion yuan. The consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, fell 1.2 percent year on year in March, compared with a decline of 1.6 percent in February, the first monthly fall since December 2002.

Foreign trade dropped 24.9 percent to US$428.7 billion. Exports were down 19.7 percent to US$245.5 billion. Imports slumped 30.9 percent to US$183.2 billion.

Actually used foreign direct investment stood at US$21.8 billion, US$5.6 billion lower than the same period of last year.

In the first two months, the number of newly employed in urban areas reached 1.62 million, 210,000 fewer than the same period of 2008.

The per capita disposable income of urban residents rose 10.2 percent to 4,834 yuan for the first quarter. Deducting price factors, the increase reached 11.2 percent. That of rural residents also climbed 8.6 percent to 1,622 yuan.

The country's bank credit also grew in the first quarter. The narrow measure of money supply, M1 (cash in circulation plus corporate current deposits), was up 17.0 percent year on year to 17.7 trillion yuan.

The country's foreign exchange reserves rose 16 percent year-on-year to US$1.9537 trillion by the end of March.


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