BEIJING -- China's economy expanded by 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009, official data showed Thursday.
The quarterly growth was the slowest in the past 10 years as the global financial crisis continued to affect the world's fastest-growing economy. It was 4.5 percentage points lower than the first quarter of 2008 and down 0.7 percentage points from the previous quarter.
Gross domestic product (GDP) reached 6.5745 trillion yuan ($939 billion) in the first quarter, Ma Jiantang, director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told a press conference.
Industrial output grew 5.1 percent year on year in the first quarter this year, with a rise of 8.3 percent in March.
Consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, fell 1.2 percent year on year in March. This was compared with a decline of 1.6 percent in February, the first monthly fall since December 2002.
China's producer price index (PPI) fell 4.6 percent in the first quarter year on year. However, the statistics agency did not give a year-on-year figure for PPI in March, but said it declined 0.3 percent in March compared with February, a smaller monthly rate of decline than in the previous two months.
Retail sales grew 15 percent to 2.94 trillion yuan ($430.4 billion) in the first quarter this year.
China has started to implement a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package to counter the impact of the global slowdown, helping prompt a surge in lending in the first three months of the year.
"The overall national economy showed positive changes, with better performance than expected," the NBS said in a statement distributed ahead of a news conference.
"(We should) continuously improve macroeconomic policies and make efforts to realise sound and fast growth," it said.
Actually used foreign direct investment stood at $21.8 billion, $5.6 billion lower than the same period of last year.
In the first two months, the number of newly employed in urban areas reached 1.62 million, 210,000 fewer than the same period of 2008.
The per capita disposable income of urban residents rose 10.2 percent to 4,834 yuan for the first quarter. Deducting price factors, the increase reached 11.2 percent. That of rural residents also climbed 8.6 percent to 1,622 yuan.
The country's bank credit also grew in the first quarter. The narrow measure of money supply, M1 (cash in circulation plus corporate current deposits), was up 17.0 percent year on year to 17.7 trillion yuan.
The country's foreign exchange reserves rose 16 percent year-on-year to $1.9537 trillion by the end of March.