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China's export hub opens regular cargo train to Europe
Xinhua, April 15, 2016

China on Thursday launched its first regular freight train service linking its southern province of Guangdong and Germany. The first train, carrying furniture, home appliances and machinery, left Dongguan on Thursday afternoon and will pass through Russia, Belarus and Poland before reaching Duisburg in Germany. The journey of more than 13,000 kilometers will take 19 days, 15 days shorter than sea freight, said a spokesperson with the Guangzhou Railway Corporation. Guangdong is the leading Chinese province for foreign trade, with its exports accounting for about 30 percent of the national total. The new line will see trains set out from Dongguan every Thursday.
China's economy expands 6.7% in Q1, signaling stablization, April 15, 2016
China's economy grew by 6.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2016 to reach 15.9 trillion yuan (US$2.4 trillion), according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) on Friday. Although it is the slowest quarterly growth in the Chinese economy in seven years, the NBS said at the press conference on Friday that "major indictors have shown positive changes." Other economic indicators, such as fixed-asset investment growth and retail sales, suggest the world's second-largest economy is stabilizing. One of the "positive changes" is the fast growth of the tertiary industry, showing a 7.6 percent year-on-year jump in the first quarter, significantly higher than the rates for industry as a whole and agriculture, which were 5.8 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Consumers also appear to be spending, with retail sales registering a robust 10.3% jump for the first quarter. The fast growth of some new growth engines, such as internet-related sectors and advanced manufacturing, is also encouraging, the NBS said.
Fixed-asset investment rose 10.7 percent year on year in the first quarter, a faster expansion than last year's 10 percent. Investment in the property sector grew 6.2 percent, accelerating from 1 percent for the whole of 2015. Industrial output expanded 5.8 percent, accelerating from the 5.4-percent increase for the January-February period. Zhao Chenxin, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said major economic indicators show that the economic fundamentals have improved, although it is too early to say that the economy has started to bottom out. Authorities have taken a string of measures to mitigate the downshift, cutting interest rates, reducing taxes, slashing overcapacity and initiating reforms to improve efficiency. Thanks to those moves, the economy has seen some improvement since the beginning of this year, with exports and industrial profits returning to growth, manufacturing activity picking up and power use accelerating.
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for China's growth in 2016 and 2017 to 6.5 percent and 6.2 percent respectively, both up 0.2 percentage points from its January predictions. NBS spokesperson Sheng Laiyun said there are signs of China's economy "bottoming out," but warned of persisting downward pressure due to uncertainty in the global economy and difficulties in the country's structural shift to consumption-driven growth and entrepreneurship. It will take more time to tell if the stabilization can last, he acknowledged. "China's future growth is likely to follow an L-shaped trajectory in the long run, but in the near term, it may present a U- or W-shape due to fluctuations," Sheng told reporters. The positive economic data makes it less necessary for Chinese policy makers to ramp up stimulus immediately, analysts said. With credit accelerating and growth stabilizing, the urgency to push ahead with monetary easing is reduced, while fiscal policy will do more of the work, said Tom Orlik, chief Asia economist of Bloomberg.Newly-added social finance, a gauge of funds that firms and households get from the financial system, amounted to 2.34 trillion yuan in March, up 1.51 trillion yuan from February, central bank data showed on Friday.