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In this Sunday, April 16, 2017 photo, workers prepare to load cables at a building construction site as a propaganda banner reads "The Party Secretary General Xi Jinping" on display at the Central Business District in Beijing. China's economic growth ticked higher to 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest figures.  The official data released Monday, April 17, 2017, show that the world's second-biggest economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the January-March period compared with the previous quarter's 6.8 percent expansion (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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China’s 1Q economic growth ticks higher to 6.9 percent

In this Sunday, April 16, 2017 photo, workers prepare to load cables at a building construction site as a propaganda banner reads "The Party Secretary General Xi Jinping" on display at the Central Business District in Beijing. China's economic growth ticked higher to 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest figures. The official data released Monday, April 17, 2017, show that the world's second-biggest economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the January-March period compared with the previous quarter's 6.8 percent expansion (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

HONG KONG (AP) — China’s economic recovery is gaining momentum, with growth ticking up to a 6.9 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year, lifted by government stimulus and a property boom.

The growth seen in January-March in the world’s second-biggest economy, according to data released Monday, was an improvement from the previous quarter’s 6.8 percent pace and surpassed economists’ forecasts.

China saw its slowest growth in nearly three decades in 2016. Policies aimed at tempering the slowdown included higher spending on construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Relatively cheap credit spurred booming property sales.

The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 percent.

“As positive changes kept emerging and major indicators performed better than expected, the national economy maintained a momentum of steady and sound development from the second half of last year, getting off to a good start in 2017 and laying a solid foundation for accomplishing the whole-year growth target,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

During the first quarter, investment in fixed assets such as factories expanded 9.2 percent from a year earlier, while retail sales grew 10 percent. Industrial production rose 6.8 percent, including a stronger-than- expected 7.6 percent year-on-year gain in March.

Economists say they expect the boost from the government’s policies to persist for a few more months before fading later in the year.

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Wayne Zhang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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