BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) -- China's value-added industrial output, an important economic indicator, expanded 6.8 percent year on year in the first quarter, compared with the 6.3-percent increase for January to February, official data showed Monday.
The 6.8-percent growth was up from the 5.8-percent increase in the same period of 2016. It was also higher than the 6-percent annual gain seen in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Industrial output, officially called industrial value added, is used to measure the activity of designated large enterprises with annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan (2.9 million U.S. dollars).
In March, industrial production expanded 7.6 percent year on year, NBS data showed.
Ownership analysis showed that industrial output of state-holding enterprises was up 6.2 percent in the first quarter, while output of joint-stock enterprises grew 6.9 percent. Meanwhile, industrial output of enterprises funded by overseas investors increased 6.9 percent.
In breakdown, manufacturing output expanded 7.4 percent in the first quarter, accelerating from the 6.9 percent growth in the first two months. Mining output growth declined 2.4 percent year on year.
"The structure of China's industrial output continues to improve," said NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong at a press conference, citing Q1 industrial output growth of the high-tech manufacturing sector reaching 13.4 percent and robust profit gains of large firms.
Industrial enterprises above the designated size reaped profits of 1.02 trillion yuan in the first two months, representing an increase of 31.5 percent year on year, and the growth pace quickened by 23 percentage points from last year.
The industrial output figures were released by the NBS along with a slew of other major economic indicators in the first quarter.
China's economy posted a forecast-beating growth rate in the first quarter of 2017, with the gross domestic product (GDP) up 6.9 percent from a year ago.
The growth was well above the full-year target of 6.5 percent and the 6.8-percent increase registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to NBS.