PBOC's Yi Says China 1Q Economic Data Bode Well for Growth

(Bloomberg) -- People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said economic indicators have performed better than expected in the first quarter, amid continued improvement in the global economic outlook.

In recent days “we gradually released first quarter economic data; it’s a little bit better than expected,” Yi said Thursday at a conference the central bank hosted with the International Monetary Fund in Beijing. “It’s a good sign for this year’s growth agenda.”

March data showed that the official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index posted its first gain since November with an increase that exceeded all but one estimate in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. Factory output and fixed investment also beat economists’ projections in the first two months of 2018.

Yi’s comments come just before the April 17 report on first quarter gross domestic product, which economists forecast will show a 6.8 percent expansion. That would be in line with the prior two quarters and slightly slower than the 6.9 percent pace in the first half of last year.

“China’s economy performed well in the first quarter thanks to robust domestic consumption and trade, as well as better-than-expected investment,” said Wen Bin, a researcher at China Minsheng Banking Corp. in Beijing. “A big uncertainty ahead is the potential impact of China-U.S. trade tension.”

March export data due for release Friday morning in Beijing are forecast to show imports picked up as export growth moderated after a February surge. Wen said robust export data could continue this quarter, boosting economic performance in the first half as companies seek to front-load overseas shipments ahead of potential tariffs.

The Bloomberg Economics China Surprise Index, a gauge of how data compare with estimates in surveys of economists, rose in February to the highest level in more than a year.

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