China’s Economy Posts Record 18.3% Quarterly Growth

The country’s sharp post-COVID economic comeback boosted stocks worldwide, though its growth fell short of expectations.

China’s economy grew a record 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, new data has shown. Growth was also up from 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The results mark the biggest jump in Chinese GDP since quarterly records began in 1992. However, the economy’s growth fell short of the 19% mark predicted by a Reuters poll of analysts.

China, which boasts the second largest economy in the world, was the only major nation to experience economic growth in 2020 amid a strong bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining high retail spending and exports.

European stocks were boosted by the news, with the FTSE 100 rising 0.5% after opening on Friday morning – rising above the 7,000 points level for the first time since February 2020. France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX also rose 0.2% and 0.3% respectively.

Asian stocks were also lifted by the news, with Japan’s Nikkei climbing 0.1% while the Hong Kong Hang Seng rose 0.6%.

US futures, however, saw a slump as European trading opened. S&P 500 futures were down 0.1%, Nasdaq futures were down 0.2%, and Dow futures were flat. The indexes’ gloomy outlook followed a day of near record highs as US economic data indicated a solid global recovery from the pandemic-induced recession.

“The national economy made a good start,” a spokesperson for China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, attributing the spike in GDP to “incomparable factors such as the low base figure of last year and increase of working days due to staff staying put during the Lunar New Year” holiday.

“We must be aware that the Covid-19 epidemic is still spreading globally and the international landscape is complicated with high uncertainties and instabilities,” the Bureau cautioned.

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