BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese economy has started the first quarter of 2018 on a strong note with better than expected data, indicating steady and sustainable economic growth.
The following are a group of facts and figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on China's solid economic performance in the first quarter.
-- The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 51.5 in March, the strongest level this year.
-- Small enterprises witnessed a particularly strong increase in manufacturing activities, as the PMI for small manufacturers jumped to 50.1 in March from 44.8 in February.
-- The non-manufacturing sector accelerated the pace of growth in March with its PMI standing at 54.6, up from 54.4 in February.
-- Loan demand for the real economy picked up in the first quarter with the index for loan demand rising 5.2 percentage points from last quarter to 70.9 percent.
-- Entrepreneurs are becoming more optimistic about economic conditions in Q1 with the entrepreneur confidence index coming at 74.3 percent, the highest level since Q3 2011.
-- Electricity consumption, a key barometer of economic activity, rose 9.8 percent in Q1, up 2.9 percentage points year on year.
-- The national freight volume, an indicator of economic activity, maintained steady growth in Q1 as the freight volume was up 6.3 percent year on year to 10.2 billion tonnes.
-- Consumers showed stronger willingness to spend in February with the Consumer Confidence Index reaching 124 points, the highest level since October 1993.
-- The World Bank on April 12 revised up China's growth prospect from 6.4 percent in last October to 6.5 percent.
-- The Asian Development Bank said in a report on April 11 that China's economic growth is expected to reach 6.6 percent this year, citing strong demand from home and abroad.