China's GDP growth slowed to its lowest level in 18 months in Q1, moderating to 7.4% on year from 7.7% in Q4 but topping forecasts for 7.3%. The figure is below the government's target of 7.5%, although the country's leaders have indicated that the goal is flexible as they try to implement reform.
Falling momentum in investment and consumption, struggling real estate, and weak external demand were among the main factors that caused the slower expansion.
On quarter, GDP +1.4%, as expected, vs +1.8%.
The value of home sales fell 7.7% in Q1 to 1.1T yuan ($177B); new property construction -25% to 291M square meters (3.1B square feet).
Industrial production +8.8% in March +8.6% in previously and consensus of +9%.
Retail sales +12.2% vs +11.8% and +12.1%.
Urban fixed-asset investment +17.6% in Q1 vs +17.9% previously and forecasts of +18.1%.
MNI Business Sentiment Indicator 51.1 in March vs 50.2 in February.
"All the forward-looking indicators are weak - growth is going to continue to slow," says Standard Chartered's Stephen Green. "We expect a mix of moderate monetary easing over the next few months and more aggressive reform measures."
However, Credit Agricole economist Dariusz Kowalczyk expresses a bit of optimism. "The silver lining is that retail sales and industrial output both rebounded in March, suggesting that growth is bottoming out."
The Shanghai Composite is flat.