[BEIJING] China's economy grew 7.0 per cent in the first quarter, as expected but still its slowest rate in six years, reinforcing bets that policymakers will take more steps to bolster growth.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected China's gross domestic product (GDP)to rise 7.0 per cent in January-March compared with a year ago.
In the last quarter of 2014, China's economy grew 7.3 per cent on an annual basis.
On a quarterly basis, economic growth slowed to 1.3 per cent between January and March after seasonal adjustments, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, compared with growth of 1.5 per cent in the previous three months.
Analysts had expected quarterly growth of 1.4 per cent.
Activity indicators for March were all weaker than expected.
Factory output climbed 5.6 per cent in March from a year ago, below forecasts for a 6.9 per cent gain.
Fixed-asset investment, a vital driver of the economy, rose 13.5 per cent compared with the same month last year. Analysts had expected a rise of 13.8 per cent.
Retail sales expanded 10.2 per cent compared with expectations for a 10.9 per cent gain.
The disappointing data supports analysts' predictions for China's economic growth to slide to 7 per cent this year, the lowest in a quarter of a century.