China’s first quarter growth beats expectations at 6.8%

China’s economy grew at an annual pace of 6.8% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, according to official data, beating forecasts for the period.

The growth figures for January to March were also above Beijing’s 2018 annual growth target of “around 6.5%”. The data shows resilience in the world’s second largest economy, helped by strong consumer demand. But concerns about China’s economy – including rising debt levels – remain.

The government has been fighting to contain ballooning debt and a housing bubble without hurting growth. Amy Zhuang, China economist at Nordea Bank in Singapore described the first quarter growth figures as “solid” but also said there are signs that the positive momentum is weakening, likely due to the cooling housing market.