China's Q1 GDP growth seen at 6.8 pct - government think tank

HONG KONG, March 29 (Reuters) - China's economy, the world's

second largest, will likely expand 6.8 percent in the first

quarter of 2017, the official Xinhua agency quoted a government

think tank as saying on Wednesday.

The expected pace is on par with the 6.8 percent growth

logged in the fourth quarter, which was better than market

expectations due to higher government spending and record bank

lending.

The National Academy of Economic Strategy attributed the

first-quarter expansion to a strong rise in factory-gate prices,

rebounding corporate profits and increasing imports, Xinhua

said.

"The focus of macro-economic policies should be in

supply-side structural reforms to boost potential output in the

long run," Wang Hongju, a researcher at the academy, was quoted

by Xinhua as saying.

In the first half of the year, GDP will grow by 6.7 percent.

Industrial production is likely to increase moderately in the

second quarter, while investment sees slightly slower growth,

according to the think tank.

It warned that the government should guard against risks in

the property and financial sectors by properly managing monetary

and land supply "floodgates", Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Meg Shen in Hong Kong and Lee Chyen Yee in

Singapore; editing by Andrew Roche)