Hong Kong’s economy grew at the fastest pace in nearly seven years in the first quarter, but the government maintained its growth outlook for this year, citing rising uncertainties in the global environment.
Gross domestic product grew 4.7 percent year-on-year, faster than the 3.4 percent expansion seen in the fourth quarter, data from the Census and Statistics Department showed Friday.
This was the fastest growth since June 2011 and marked the sixth consecutive quarter of growth above the trend growth rate of 2.7 percent per annum in the past 10 years.
Quarter-on-quarter, real GDP surged 2.2 percent versus 0.8 percent in the preceding quarter.
The expenditure-side breakdown of GDP showed that private consumption advanced 8.6 percent, reflecting optimistic consumer confidence. Government expenditure logged an annual growth of 3.9 percent.
Gross fixed capital formation rose 3.8 percent after gaining 3.1 percent in the previous quarter.
Driven by the upswing in global investment, exports of goods increased 5.2 percent in the first quarter. At the same time, exports of services grew 7.5 percent, bolstered by a strong recovery in inbound tourism.
At the same time, imports of goods moved up 6.9 percent and imports of services by 3.8 percent.
Andrew Au, a government economist, said the actual growth outturn was stronger-than-expected. Nonetheless, taking into account the increased uncertainties in the external environment the real growth forecast for 2018 was maintained at 3-4 percent.
Chang Liu, an economist at Captial Economics, said GDP growth has now peaked though and will slow over the coming months as headwinds from tightening monetary conditions build.
The statistical office said robust economic conditions, if continued, are likely to exert upward pressures on inflation over the course of 2018, though the inflation rate for the year as a whole should remain moderate.
The government retained its projection for headline inflation for this year at 2.2 percent and underlying inflation at 2.5 percent.