China's economy shows signs of recovery

Economic data released by China on Wednesday show the world's second-largest economy picking up at the beginning of this year, following the end of the "zero-COVID" policy.

The National Bureau of Statistics says retail sales in the first two months rose by 3.5 percent from the same period a year ago. It was the first increase after three straight months of declines going back to October of 2022.

Restaurant sales improved after Beijing lifted COVID restrictions in January. Sales of food were also brisk during the Lunar New Year holidays.

Industrial production rose 2.4 percent from a year earlier.

But one of the country's biggest industries remained weak. Investment in real estate development was down 5.7 percent. The real estate market in general remains sluggish.

There are other reasons for concern, despite the overall positive trend. The picture for exports is uncertain as concerns rise of an economic slowdown in the US and Europe.