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China is expected to announce on Wednesday that economic growth slowed down in the first quarter of this year.
The country’s gross domestic product is projected to grow by 6.3 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2019, according to analysts polled by Reuters. That’s lower than the 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, and the 6.8 percent that China reported a year ago.
GDP is among a slew of economic data that China is scheduled to release on Wednesday morning. Others include Chinese industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment for March.
Investors have been watching the health of the Chinese economy — the world’s second largest — amid Beijing’s ongoing trade dispute with Washington. Official GDP figures are widely followed, but some experts have long expressed skepticism about the veracity of China’s reports.
Nevertheless, a number of recent data — compiled privately and from official sources — have pointed to an improvement in the Chinese economy, thanks partly to Beijing’s stimulus measures. In March, China reported much higher than expected exports, and an unexpected expansion in the country’s manufacturing activity.
That could mean the Chinese economy may have hit a bottom and is now recovering, said Alexander Treves, an investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“What we’re looking for now … is what happens over the next nine, 12, 18 months,” he told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” earlier this week.
“This GDP number is much less important than what we’re going to see over the next few months. And already we’ve seen some bottoming out of earnings, some bottoming out of activity with room for improvement from here,” he added.
The tariff fight between China and the U.S. hit economic activity globally, especially in the second half of last year. That put additional pressure on China as the country was trying to wean its economy off an excessive reliance on debt to grow, leading to worries that the Asian giant was heading toward a hard landing.