Steel factory, Taiyuan
China's factory output beat analyst forecasts in June Reuters

China's economy maintained a solid rate of growth in the second quarter as the government's massive stimulus programme helped boost demand in the industrial sector.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 6.7% year-on-year in the April to June period, the same pace of growth recorded in the previous quarter. Analysts had forecast the world's second largest economy to expand 6.6%.

The figure falls within Beijing's growth target of 6.5% to 7% for 2016.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said the economy had achieved "moderate and steady development" amid "complicated" domestic and external conditions.

Stock markets across Asia reacted positively to the data, with Japan's Nikkei 225 share average up 1.2% at 16,577.58 points.

Other data for June released by the statistics agency suggested that the Chinese economy was stabilising, with both industrial production and retail sales beating expectations.

Factory output was up 6.2% from a year ago while retail sales jumped 10.6%, accelerating from a 10% increase in May.

Meanwhile, fixed-asset investment expanded 9% in the first six months of the year, compared to 9.6% growth in the January to May period.

The Chinese government front-loaded its stimulus programme in the first quarter to boost a sluggish economy, with banks lending billions of dollars to businesses to maintain cash flow.