China's GDP may grow 12% for Q1

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China's gross domestic product for the first quarter of this year may grow as high as 12 percent from a year earlier, up from an increase of 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, analysts said.

Besides the GDP figure, other key economic data for March due to be released next week will also reflect a fast growth momentum because of a solid recovery and the low comparative base.

"March economic data, which is the first this year free of the Lunar New Year distortions, will be instrumental in assessing whether the ongoing rebound is robust and balanced, or overheated and excessive," said Wang Qing, an economist at Morgan Stanley. "They are essential to form valuable input to policy making in the immediate term."

The Purchasing Managers' Index, a harbinger of the country's manufacturing activities and exports of industrial goods, climbed to 55.1 in March from 52 a month earlier, indicating robust expansion in manufacturing.

Industrial production may accelerate 18 percent annually in March, slower than the 20.7 percent jump in the first two months of this year. China's exports in March were expected to rise rapidly, but a deficit of US$1 billion may be seen because imports may have grown faster, analysts said.

Li Maoyu, an analyst at Changjiang Securities Co, said a GDP expansion of as high as 12 percent is very likely in the first three months of this year, and consumer price rise may ease slightly in March which reduces the possibility of an immediate interest rate increase.

"We are hopeful that new evidence of robust economic growth will be seen in the March data, partly due to a low base," Li said. "Consumer prices may have risen between 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent last month, lower than the rise of 2.7 percent in February."

But authorities said there is no major change in the relatively easy monetary policy and a proactive fiscal policy this year. The People's Bank of China has said it needs more time to decide on an interest rate increase.

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