Economic data point to further growth

China released upbeat macroeconomic data on Tuesday indicating that the economy remained on solid footing at the start of the year, and analysts said the trend will continue through the year.

Industrial output rose by 6.3 percent year-on-year in the first two months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Fixed asset investment, a major driver of growth, increased by 8.9 percent year-on-year in the first two months, down from 10.2 percent in the same period last year. But it was the fastest pace since July.

Real estate investment increased by 8.9 percent in the period, up from 3.0 percent in the first two months of last year. It beat market expectations against the backdrop of tightened regulations since October to combat speculation.

Retail sales, however, increased by 9.5 percent in the period, down from 10.2 percent in the same period last year.

Most data are "quite positive" and "apparently improving", NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told a news conference. "On the whole, in the first two months, the national economy continued the stable and improving growth momentum since the second half of last year," he said.

Sheng also said data in the first two months show the country's economic restructuring has made progress. For example, industrial output in the high-tech and equipment industries increased by 12.6 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively-both higher than the growth of overall industrial output. Fixed asset investment in high-tech industries, meanwhile, rose by 18.4 percent.

"China's domestic and external demand has picked up, with export, manufacturing investment, real estate investment and infrastructure all expanding at a faster-than-expected pace," said Ren Zeping, chief economist of Founder Securities. "The Chinese economy is starting to step out of slowdown and enter a cycle of recovery."

Hu Yuexiao, chief macroeconomic analyst at Shanghai Securities, said: "Investment remains China's main growth engine, and its pickup means the Chinese economy has started to stabilize. It will maintain the trend of stabilization and continue to improve this year."

Editor: lishen