By Adam Rose and Xiaoyi Shao BEIJING (Reuters) - China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 18 months at the start of 2014, but did a touch better than expected and showed some improvement in March, suggesting Beijing will not rush to follow up recent steps to support activity. The economy grew 7.4 percent in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. It was China's slowest annual growth since the third quarter of 2012, when the world's second-largest economy also grew 7.4 percent. "The slowdown of China's economy is a reflection of a transformation of the economic mode," said Sheng Laiyun, of the National Bureau of Statistics.
By Marc Jones LONDON (Reuters) - Share markets made broad gains on Wednesday after China reported economic growth a touch above forecasts, a relief for investors who had feared a much weaker outcome. China's economy grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter, from a year earlier, pipping forecasts of 7.3 percent. The relief rippled through Asian markets, with Japan's Nikkei ending up 3 percent - its biggest gain since February. "China is still on a downward path on growth but clearly the market took some relief in that number ... our basic view is that it will be a gradual slowdown rather than a hard landing." The mood had already been lifted by a late rally at the end of a rollercoaster session on Wall Street, thanks mainly to some solid earnings reports.
(Reuters) - Defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has given up plans to rebuild under bankruptcy protection and has asked a Tokyo court to allow it to be liquidated, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Mt. Gox's lawyers declined to comment on the matter. Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles won't travel to the United States to answer questions about the bitcoin exchange's U.S. bankruptcy case, Mt. Gox lawyers told a federal judge this week.
A shock drop in March euro zone inflation to its lowest level since November 2009 was confirmed on Wednesday, keeping pressure on the European Central Bank to intervene should prices not rebound. The year-on-year inflation rate in the 18 countries sharing the euro was 0.5 percent in March against 0.7 percent in February, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said. Inflation rates in Austria (+1.4 pct), Malta (+1.4 pct) and Germany (+0.9 pct) were nearer to the ECB's target of close to but below 2 percent. Inflation has now been in the ECB's "danger zone" of below 1 percent for six consecutive months, fuelling speculation that the ECB will need to take further action.