China’s economic recovery stepped up in the third quarter, latest data is expected to show.

Consumers are returning to malls and major trading partners reopening for business, as the Asian superpower shakes off a record slump seen earlier this year.

The world’s second-largest economy likely grew 5.2 per cent in July-September from a year earlier, faster than the second quarter’s 3.2 per cent, according to a Reuters poll.

China releases third-quarter GDP data later on Monday, along with September factory output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment.

Policymakers globally are pinning hopes on a robust recovery in China to help restart demand as economies struggle with heavy lockdowns and a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“China has become the first major economy to return to its pre-virus growth path, thanks to its rapid containment of COVID-19 and effective stimulus response,” said analysts from Capital Economics.

However they warned a renewed slowdown is likely from late 2021 as stimulus fades.

China’s retail spending has lagged the comeback in factory activity as heavy job losses and persistent worries about infection kept consumers at home, even as restrictions lifted.

However that is expected to have changed in the third quarter.

In September, auto sales marked a sixth straight month of gains with a solid 12.8 per cent growth and Ford Motor Co’s China vehicle sales jumped 25 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier.

Domestic passenger flights in September, meanwhile, beat COVID-19 levels, indicating that sector was approaching a full recovery.