China's economy in the January-March period grew a real 5.3 percent from a year earlier, official data showed Tuesday, with the pace of expansion accelerating from the previous quarter thanks to stimulus measures implemented amid a prolonged slump in the property sector.

The increase in the inflation-adjusted gross domestic product of the world's second-largest economy quickened from 5.2 percent in the previous three months. The latest figure beat market expectations for a 4.6 percent expansion in the first three months of this year.

Beijing has set an ambitious GDP growth target of around 5 percent for 2024 and taken measures including monetary easing steps and the decision to additionally issue 1 trillion yuan ($140 billion) worth of sovereign bonds to shore up an economy hit not just by the property crisis but also weak demand and mounting local government debt.

On a quarter-to-quarter basis, China's GDP in the January-March period rose 1.6 percent from the previous quarter, compared with revised growth of 1.2 percent in the October-December period.

A spokesman of China's National Bureau of Statistics holds a press conference in Beijing on April 16, 2024. (Kyodo) 

The National Bureau of Statistics said China's economy in the first quarter "made a good start with positive factors amassing, laying a strong foundation for achieving the annual development targets."

"However, we should be aware that the external environment is becoming more complex, severe and uncertain, and the foundation for stable and sound economic growth is not solid yet," the bureau added.

In the January-March period, retail sales of consumer goods increased 4.7 percent on year, while investment in fixed assets, excluding rural households, rose 4.5 percent. But investment in real estate development dropped 9.5 percent.

Industrial production in China, dubbed the "world's factory," grew 6.1 percent. The total value of exports climbed 4.9 percent.

Last week, the Asian Development Bank forecast China's economy would expand 4.8 percent this year and 4.5 percent in 2025 on the back of a weak property market and fading domestic consumption growth.

In 2023, China's economy expanded a real 5.2 percent from a year earlier due partly to the previous year's low base caused by the stringent "zero-COVID" policy involving lockdowns that restricted people's movements and disrupted supply chains.

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