China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth unexpectedly slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2013, down from 7.9 percent during the final quarter of 2012, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.
The rate was weaker than most market expectations, but still stayed above the 7.5-percent full-year target for 2013 set by the government last month.
According to preliminary statistics, the GDP totaled 11.89 trillion yuan (1.9 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first three months. "The data has continued a stabilizing growth trend that took shape late last year, showing that the new government does not put pursuing growth as its number-one task," said Wang Jun, an economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
China's full-year annual growth in 2012 eased to 7.8 percent, its weakest since 1999. GDP figures headed a string of other data showing that industrial output grew 9.5 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2013, down from the 11.6-percent pace recorded during the same period of last year.
The growth of fixed-asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, remained unchanged at 20.9 percent during the period compared to a year earlier.
Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 12.4 percent from a year earlier, easing from the 14.8 percent logged in the same period last year.
Philippines News agency