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First-quarter GDP growth in Hong Kong slows to near decade low of 0.5pc


PRELIMINARY government statistics show that Hong Kong's economy grew at its slowest annual pace in nearly ten years due to the slowdown in exports and investment.

The city's economy has been troubled by China's slowing economy and the US-China trade war, along with cooling property prices and volatile stock markets.

The economy grew 0.5 per cent in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, the weakest increase since the third quarter of 2009, compared with a revised 1.2 per cent pace of growth in the final quarter of 2018.

This was the first time the government has released a preliminary reading on gross domestic product (GDP). Hong Kong will release first-quarter data and its latest economic forecasts for the year on May 17, according to Reuters.

A Hong Kong government spokesman said in a statement: "Total exports of goods weakened further in the first quarter, similar to the situation in many other Asian economies. Exports of services also recorded decelerated growth, yet sustained expansion of inbound tourism continued to provide support."

Private consumption grew marginally and overall investment expenditure contracted as business sentiment had turned cautious since the latter part of 2018, the spokesman said.

Chief economist of Bank of East Asia, Paul Tang, said the economy looked set to improve in the near future thanks to the positive wealth effect from stronger stock and property markets.

"We are quite sure the performance in the first quarter is the worse, and a recovery in the second half will become more obvious," Mr Tang said, adding that positive signs in Sino-US trade talks and a stabilising Chinese economy were lending support to business confidence.

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