China’s Growth Slows

First-quarter GDP increase of 8.1% boosts pressure for easing.

China’s growth slowed more than forecast last quarter as exports and domestic demand cooled, boosting pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to loosen policy further and shore up expansion in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Gross domestic product expanded 8.1 percent from a year earlier, the least in almost three years, after an 8.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said in Beijing today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 41 economists was 8.4 percent. Industrial production rose at a faster pace in March while retail sales growth accelerated, the data showed.

Fine-Tuning Policies

Wen has said economic policies will be fine-tuned as needed even as he prolongs a campaign to curb property prices and speculation. During a visit to Fujian and Guangxi provinces April 1 to 3, the premier pledged to push ahead on key investment projects, accelerate export tax-rebate payments and ensure “reasonable” liquidity.

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