This photo taken on April 10, 2019 shows a Chinese employee measuring valve parts at a factory in Jinjiang in China's eastern Fujian province. - Factory and consumer inflation in China picked up in March, indicating some much-needed stability in the world's number two economy though analysts warned it is not yet out of the woods. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUTSTR/AFP/Getty Images
Workers check parts at a factory in Fujian province © AFP

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The Chinese economy grew at a faster than expected rate during the first quarter of this year, after US president Donald Trump last month backed down from a threat to escalate his trade war with Beijing and government stimulus measures began to take hold. 

In Wednesday’s keenly anticipated release, the National Bureau of Statistics estimated the world’s second-largest economy expanded 6.4 per cent year on year in the first quarter, matching the 6.4 per cent growth posted in the final quarter of 2018. 

The outlook for China had appeared far gloomier as recently as February, when industrial profits posted their largest drop in more than a decade. Stimulus policies that have been rolled out since last year have helped boost consumer sentiment and a property market recovery. 

The data will add to hopes that the broader global economic slowdown may be reversing course. On Tuesday, BlackRock chief Larry Fink said markets were poised for a “melt-up” as economic data improves and central banks turn dovish to support growth. (FT, Bloomberg)

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In the news

Apple and Qualcomm make peace
Apple and Qualcomm have agreed to put aside their differences. The tech groups settled numerous billion-dollar legal disputes, paving the way for Qualcomm’s chips to return to Apple products, including the iPhone. Intel, which had been Apple’s sole modem supplier, subsequently said it had decided to exit the 5G mobile modem market. (FT)

Climate warning 
The governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have warned that the global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change. Mark Carney and Villeroy de Galhau said financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world had to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe. Meanwhile, police in London arrested 290 climate protesters who occupied several thoroughfares for more than 24 hours. (Guardian, FT)

Deripaska vows to fight US 
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska said in an interview with the FT that “filthy lies” were behind US sanctions against him, stepping up a fight with Washington that would intensify scrutiny of the Trump administration’s approach to Russia. His lawyers are also set to launch a $600,000 fund to encourage journalists to dig into the cause of the sanctions. (FT)

From a river to a stream 
Netflix reported a 22 per cent jump in revenue to $4.52bn, reaching nearly 150m subscribers who appear to be shrugging off price rises. However, it warned that Wall Street forecasts for the next few months might be overheated, as the streaming service faces looming competition from Disney, Apple and others. Meanwhile, James Murdoch is set to invest about $1bn from the proceeds of the sale of his stake in 21st Century Fox to assemble a new portfolio of media companies that could include a liberal-leaning news outlet. (FT)

White House considering other Fed candidates 
The White House is considering other potential nominees for the Federal Reserve board, in an apparent acknowledgment that Mr Trump’s preferred candidates face an uphill battle winning support in the US Senate if they are nominated. Herman Cain, the former pizza executive, faces particularly steep odds after a fourth Republican senator said last week that he would vote against him. (FT)

Boeing board under pressure
Two leading shareholder advisory companies are calling for a boardroom shake-up at Boeing following two fatal accidents involving its 737 Max aircraft. Institutional Shareholder Services said that Dennis Muilenburg should be stripped of his dual role as chairman and chief executive, while Glass Lewis, a rival shareholder advisory service, recommended the removal of the board’s audit committee head Lawrence Kellner. But there was some good news for the aircraft maker on Tuesday after the Federal Aviation Administration found a planned software update and training revisions to be “operationally suitable”. (FT, Reuters)

Trump blocks Yemen bill
Donald Trump has vetoed a bill demanding an end to US involvement in Yemen’s civil war, intensifying a stand-off with Congress over his administration’s staunch support for Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, details have emerged of the horrific treatment meted out to women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. They were campaigning against the country’s male guardianship system and for the right to drive, before the ban was lifted last June. (FT, BBC)

The day ahead

Morgan Stanley wraps up earnings season for banks
The bank is expected to underperform because of its exposure to sluggish activities such as trading and investment banking and its lack of retail banking operations. The stars of this reporting season were not high-powered dealmakers, brilliant bond traders or wizards of corporate finance. They were tellers, mobile apps and credit cards. (FT)

Indonesia votes 
Polls opened in Indonesia, marking the start of the biggest direct presidential election in the world, with almost 200m people making their way to the ballot box across the globe’s fourth most populous country. “Quick counts” will reveal the likely winner before the end of the day, but official results will be announced in May. (FT)

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What we’re reading

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on the home front 
Donald Trump’s administration has branded the guards as a foreign terrorist group, but the elite force shows a different side at home as they play a leading role in relief efforts following devastating floods. The FT’s Najmeh Bozorgmehr reports on the complex role the guards play in Iranian society. (FT)

A college road-trip across America 
How far would you go to get your kid into college? The FT’s Brooke Masters visits 10 campuses, across nine states, in just one week, taking her daughter on a voyage that is far from unusual for parents and applicants navigating the US admissions process. (FT)

The end of animal meat? 
As consumers turn to plant-based meat alternatives such as Impossible burgers, a new generation of lab-grown meat companies is looking to develop “real” chicken, fish and beef that doesn’t involve killing animals. The Atlantic examines what stands in their way, while The Washington Post reports that Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper tastes even better than the real thing

Sony teases next-gen PlayStation 
Wired magazine speaks to Sony’s Mark Cerny, lead system architect, about the hotly anticipated console. Cerny is aiming for “a fundamental change in what a game can be”, and describes how he is building a faster machine that can deliver unprecedented audio and visual effects. (Wired)

Carmakers eye the moon 
The next frontier for carmakers could be the moon. China’s BAIC Group is developing technology with the country’s Lunar Exploration Project for lunar exploration. Toyota is also teaming up with Japan’s space agency to build a lunar rover, expecting to put it on the moon by 2029. (Bloomberg)

Video of the day

Unfolding Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphone 
After more than a decade in the making Samsung has finally released its foldable smartphone. At $1,980, the device will not fit into everyone’s price bracket but it does have appeal, says our global technology correspondent Tim Bradshaw. (FT)

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