July 17, 2017 12:48 pm JST

China's 2nd-quarter GDP growth steady at 6.9%

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China's economy grew 6.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, buoyed by strong consumption and exports, despite tightening financial conditions, official data showed Monday.

The figure, slightly better than analyst consensus, is unchanged from the previous three months' 6.9 percent expansion in gross domestic product, which was the fastest pace in more than a year, propelled by state-led investment in infrastructure projects.

"The national economy performed within an appropriate range with more visible good momentum and achieved steady growth," the National Bureau of Statistics, which released the data, said.

As China steps up efforts to fend off financial risks ahead of a five-yearly party congress in the fall, economists forecast that its economy will slow moderately in the months ahead.

For the April-June period, a large number of analysts had predicted that the Asia powerhouse's growth to slip to 6.8 percent, while the Chinese government is trying to curb a ballooning debt pile and tame hot property prices.

The data showed that fixed assessment investment which includes spending on property construction and infrastructure, rose 8.6 percent in the first half of this year, down from 9.2 percent in the first quarter.

In the first six months, however, growth in retail sales of consumer goods expanded to 10.4 percent from the same period last year, or compared with 10 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

Benefiting from a pickup in overseas demand, the total value of Chinese exports registered a year-on-year increase of 15 percent in the January-June period.

The Communist Party has placed top priority on securing social and economic stability ahead of the congress, which is likely to consolidate President Xi Jinping's status as the most powerful Chinese leader in many years.

The statistics bureau urged that China should be "united even closer around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core" to overcome any uncertain economic factors at home and abroad.

Despite an expected deceleration in the rate of growth, senior officials, nonetheless, have suggested in recent months that China could easily meet this year's GDP growth target of around 6.5 percent.

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