READ MOREGross domestic product expanded 6.9% year-on-year, slightly faster than the 6.8% growth seen in the fourth quarter of 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
This was the fastest expansion since the third quarter of 2015. The annual growth was expected to stabilize at 6.8%.
The government targets slightly slower growth of about 6.5% this year after attaining 6.7% growth in 2016. The 6.7% expansion was the weakest in 26 years.
Quarter-on-quarter, GDP gained 1.3% in the first three months of 2017.
Industrial production growth accelerated notably to 7.6% in March versus 6.3% in the first two months of this year, marking the fastest pace since 2014. Production was expected to gain 6.3%.
Retail sales growth was a double-digit 10.9% in March after easing to 9.5% in the January to February period. Economists had forecast the rate to improve to 9.7%.
Industrial output grew 6.8% and retail sales climbed 10% from the previous year in the first quarter.
In the first quarter, fixed asset investment grew 9.2% from the prior year, faster than the 8.9% expansion seen in the January to February period. The annual growth was forecast to ease to 8.8%. ■