China's economy hits slowest pace since COVID began

STORY: China's economy contracted sharply from April to June as the country's zero-COVID policy took its toll, falling back 2.6% in the second quarter compared to the first, according to official data on Friday.

That was one of the worst showings for the world's second-biggest economy since the data series began in 1992.

The numbers highlight the serious cost widespread lockdowns have taken on the economy, as Beijing pursues its tactics to fight COVID-19 amid fresh flare-ups.

Friday's numbers surpassed expectations for a more modest 1.5% decline.

On a year-on-year basis, GDP in Q2 grew 0.4%, missing a forecasted 1% gain according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

Full or partial lockdowns were imposed in major centers across China in March and April, including a two-month lockdown in the commercial capital Shanghai.

Retail sales showed signs of improvement in June after those curbs were lifted.

Still, analysts do not expect a rapid economic recovery.

The arrival of the highly-contagious BA.5 variant has also heightened concerns about a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Friday's results also point to persistent pressure over coming months from a darkening global growth outlook.

Fears of a global recession are mounting as policymakers jack up interest rates to curb soaring inflation.

That means more hardship on consumers and businesses worldwide, as they grapple with challenges from the Ukraine war and supply chain disruptions.

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