A median forecast of 13 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal was for first-quarter growth of 6.8% from a year earlier, mirroring the relatively strong growth in the previous quarter. That in turn came after the world’s second-largest economy grew at 6.7% in the first three quarters of 2016. The main reason for the high forecast—in a year when Beijing has set a growth target of about 6.5% — was “stimulus-driven investment,” said economists at Mizuho Securities Asia, pointing to a near-10-percentage-point jump in infrastructure investment
A measure of fixed-asset investment mainly in cities was expected to slow from the first two months, at an 8.7% increase in the first quarter after the 8.9% increase in January to February. Retail sales were expected to have risen 9.7% in March, accelerating from a 9.5% increase in the two-month period. The forecast for exports was for a 4.9% expansion on year in March, recovering from a 1.3% drop in February. Imports were predicted to have risen 18.4%, retreating from a 38% surge in February. The country’s trade balance — the difference between exports and imports — probably returned to a surplus of $12 billion, after a rare deficit of $9.15 billion in February.
DM: “The Chinese army has reportedly deployed 150,000 troops to the North Korean border. China’s top nuclear envoy arrived in Seoul Monday for talks on the North Korean threat, as the United States sent the naval strike group to the region and signalled it may act to shut down Pyongyang’s weapons program.” Hmmm.