| GEO Business|
| China's economy up 11.9pc in first quarter|
| Updated at: 1252 PST, Thursday, April 15, 2010|
BEIJING: China's economy grew a blistering 11.9 percent in the first quarter, the government said Thursday, increasing pressure on Beijing to raise interest rates and loosen controls on its currency.
Gross domestic product in the world's third-largest economy maintained double-digit growth for the second straight quarter after expanding 10.7 percent in the last three months of 2009.
"We have got off to a good start this year," Li Xiaochao, spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters.
"The momentum of national economic recovery has further expanded, which has laid a good foundation for reaching the targets set for the whole year."
The number was boosted by a low base effect last year when the economy grew 6.2 percent, the slowest pace in more than a decade.
Growth in the March quarter was the fastest since the onset of the global slump and well above Beijing's target of eight percent for this year, which is seen as crucial in creating enough jobs to stave off social unrest.
The nation's closely watched consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, rose 2.2 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, the statistics bureau said.
The increase was slower than in February when consumer prices rose 2.7 percent and below the government's inflation target of three percent for the year. Retail sales jumped 17.9 percent in the January-March period.
China's fixed asset investments, a measure of government spending on infrastructure and a key driver of the economy, jumped 25.6 percent year on year.
Industrial output from the country's millions of factories and workshops rose 19.6 percent.