China's Q1 GDP posts first decline on record as virus shuts down economy

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) – China’s economy shrank 6.8% in January-March from a year earlier, official data showed on Friday, the first such decline since at least 1992 when quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) records began.

The historic slump in the world’s second-largest economy comes after efforts to contain the coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, shut down factories, transport and shopping malls.

Similar shutdowns now in effect in major economies elsewhere have devastated global trade and suggest an immediate Chinese recovery is likely to be some way off.

The decline was larger than the 6.5% forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and reverses a 6% expansion in the fourth quarter of 2019.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP fell 9.8% in the first three months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said, which compared with expectations for a 9.9% contraction and 1.5% growth in the previous quarter.

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