Last Week in Numbers: China’s Economy Grows 6.8% in Q1

China’s economy grew 6.8% in the first quarter of 2018 from a year ago. This was above the government’s target of 6.5% growth for the full year. The growth also translates to a 1.4% quarter-on-quarter expansion. The Chinese economy was driven by resilient consumption, which accounted for 77.8% of its growth during the quarter.

Investment in real estate, a key driver of China’s economy, grew 10.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, its fastest pace in three years. Retail sales last month rose 10.1% from a year ago, the fastest in four months. The biggest downside surprise was industrial output – it expanded 6% last month from the same period a year ago, some way short of analysts’ growth forecasts of between 6.2% and 7.2%.

Back home, Singapore’s economy grew 4.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018. The manufacturing sector was a key growth driver, as it expanded 10.1%, faster than the 4.8% increase in the previous quarter. Services, which make up around two-thirds of the economy, grew 3.8% from a year ago, up 3.5% from the previous quarter. BMI Research said that despite the strong first quarter numbers, it is keeping its 3% full-year 2018 growth forecast for Singapore’s economy unchanged. It cited rising interest rates and a moderation of the manufacturing sector’s growth as a curb to the economy’s expansion.

In his annual letter to shareholders,’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) CEO, Jeff Bezos, revealed that the e-commerce giant has over 100 million paying Prime subscribers. Prime subscribers pay monthly or annual fees for quick delivery of online orders, music and video streaming services, and online photo storage. Investors will also be encouraged that the membership retention rate for Prime is more than 90%. Bezos added that in 2017, Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items with Prime and had record new members join the service. Amazon shares are up almost 70% over the past year, 5 times more than the S&P 500 Index.

Warner Bros’ US$1 billion theme park is set to open in Abu Dhabi in July. Abu Dhabi, the capital and second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates, hopes the new theme park will double its number of tourists over the next few years. Abu Dhabi attracted 4.8 million tourists in 2017 and targets 8.5 million by 2021. Attractions of the 1.65 million square foot theme park will include DC Metropolis, Cartoon Junction, Warner Bros Plaza, and Batman’s Gotham City.

Meanwhile, developers in Singapore sold 716 private homes in March, 86.5% higher than the 382 units sold in February, but still 60% lower than the 1,780 units sold in March 2017. The top selling project was The Tapestry in Tampines, with 329 units sold at a median price of S$1,408 per square foot.

Finally, the effects of global warming have been felt in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. According to scientists, a two-year long heat wave has scalded large sections of the reef, leaving much of the reef altered “forever”. Scientists believe that about 30% of the Great Barrier Reef was lost in 2016, while another 20% was claimed in 2017. As it takes even the fastest growing corals 10 years to recover, scientists believe there is probably no reversing the sweeping changes to the reef. The total death toll amounts to a billion corals, with another billion remaining.

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