China likely carried most of its strong economic momentum from a year ago into the first quarter of 2018, with government crackdowns on financial risks and industrial pollution dragging less on activity than earlier expected, a Reuters poll showed.
China is aiming to re-engineer its growth model, from driven by massive state-led spending to a domestic consumption-led economy, tolerating a moderate slowdown to carry out hard reforms along the way.
Trade tensions with the United States began rising sharply only in late March, making it unlikely that they had much impact on economic activity in the first quarter.
That's positive news for Beijing, giving policymakers room to further reduce risks in China's financial system and rein in pollution without stalling economic growth. The economy had grown 6.9 percent in the first two quarters of a year ago.
Resilient consumption, which accounted for 77.8 percent of economic growth in the first quarter, has helped support the world's second-largest economy even as risks grow for its exporters.
Data on Friday showed export growth slowed in the first quarter in yuan terms, indicating overseas demand may not provide the same boost to overall GDP as it did a year ago, when the economy posted its first pick-up in growth since 2010.
"The national economy maintained the momentum of steady and sound development, the transformation and upgrading was pushed forward steadily, the economic performance continued to improve and the economy was off to a good start", the National Bureau of Statistics said.
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Total credit in the economy in the first quarter fell almost 20 percent on-year, though some economists think Beijing will not tap the brakes too hard and risk a sharper economic slowdown.
Growth next year will likely cool further to 6.3 percent, according to the survey.
First quarter infrastructure investment rose 13 percent on year, but eased slightly from January-February.
Ninety percent of respondents said that the trade dispute will be damaging to China's economy.
Industrial output was perhaps the biggest downside surprise, expanding 6.0 percent in March on-year, the slowest pace in seven months.
Economists also predicted annual consumer inflation to be 2.3 percent this year, unchanged from the estimate in January.