China’s economy exceeded its pre-pandemic growth rates in the fourth quarter, propelling it to a stronger-than-expected expansion of 2.3% for the full year and making it the only major one to avoid contraction in 2020.

Gross domestic product climbed 6.5% in the final quarter from a year earlier, fueled by industrial output, the statistics bureau said Monday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted 6.2% growth for the quarter and 2.1% for the full year.

"China has more than returned to trend growth,” said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. The strong rebound means authorities can "prioritize structural reforms rather than economic reflation” in 2021, he said.