Type to search

China’s GDP Growth Seen Slowing in the First Quarter

Analysts expect first quarter GDP will come in around 4.6% on Tuesday, which would be the weakest since Q1 in 2023

People cross an intersection near cranes standing at a construction site in Beijing, January 15, 2024 (Reuters).


Analysts say China’s economy is likely to have slowed in the first quarter because of the property crisis and weak confidence in the private sector.

A poll conducted by Reuters has predicted official data on Tuesday will show gross product growth of 4.6% in the first quarter of the year.

That would be a dip from the 5.2% in the last quarter of 2023 and the weakest since the first quarter last year, and likely to keep pressure on policymakers to introduce more measures to stimulate the economy.


ALSO SEE: US Lawmakers’ Fury Over Huawei’s Intel AI Chip-Powered Laptop


The world’s second-largest economy has struggled to mount a strong and sustainable a post-Covid bounce, burdened by a protracted property downturn, mounting local government debts and weak private-sector spending.

The government has set a target of around 5% for this year, which has been described by most analysts as ambitious, partly because last year’s growth rate of 5.2% was likely flattered by a comparison with a Covid-hit 2022.

The economy was off to a solid start this year, fanning optimism among some analysts for an improved 2024 outcome, but March data on exports, consumer inflation and bank lending showed that momentum could falter again and policymakers may need to launch more stimulus to spur demand.

“I think Q1 GDP growth could be slightly stronger than expected – it may be close to 5%,” Zong Liang, chief of research at state-owned Bank of China, said.

“The growth target is achievable as we still have more policy space.”

On a quarterly basis, the economy is forecast to expand 1.4% in the first quarter, quickening from 1.0% in October-December, the poll showed.


Industrial output, retail seen slowing

GDP data is due on Tuesday at 0200 GMT. Separate data on March activity is expected to show both industrial output and retail sales slowing.

For 2024, the economy is expected to grow at a subdued 4.6% pace year-on-year, the poll showed, falling short of the official target of around 5.0%.

Last week, Fitch cut its outlook on China’s sovereign credit rating to negative, citing risks to public finances as Beijing channels more spending towards infrastructure and high-tech manufacturing, amid a shift away from the property sector.

The government is drawing on infrastructure work – a well-used playbook – to help lift the economy as consumers are wary of spending and businesses lack confidence to expand.

China has set the 2024 quota for local government special bond issuance at 3.9 trillion yuan (nearly $540 billion), up from 3.8 trillion yuan last year. Beijing also plans to issue 1 trillion yuan in special ultra-long term treasury bonds to support some key sectors.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has pledged to step up policy support for the economy this year and promote a rebound in prices.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected the central bank to cut the banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRR) by 25 basis points (bps) in the third quarter, following a 50-basis point cut earlier this year, which was the biggest in two years.

The PBOC might include the buying and selling of treasury bonds in its policy tool reserve in future, Financial News – a publication backed by the central bank – quoted experts as saying last week.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard



China Customs Data: Exports, Imports Saw Big Falls in March

Excess Capacity Claim is Wrong, We’re More Competitive: China

Fitch Cuts China Outlook to Negative, Citing Debt, Growth Risks

Foreign Orders Lift China’s Manufacturing Again in March: Caixin

China’s Factory Output, Retail Sales Both Rise in First Two Months

China Sees Better Than Expected 2024 Trade Growth

China’s Big Guns Defend GDP Target, Explain Economic Policies

Doubt on China’s Plan to Lift Consumption, Maintain Growth

PM Pledges to Revitalize China’s Economy, Aims at 5% Growth

China Asks Banks to Roll Over $13tn Local Debt at Lower Rates

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


AF China Bond