The number of newly-registered market entities grew fast in the first quarter, marking improved market sentiment, new data showed on Wednesday. Some 2.38 million entities were registered during this period, jumping 42.6 percent year on year, according to State Administration for Industry and Commerce data. Their aggregate capital rose 72.4 percent over the previous year to 2.91 trillion yuan (467.7 billion U.S. dollars), data showed. Market entities cover all basic economic units including companies, small individual businesses, and farmer cooperatives. A new business registration rule took effect on March 1, with lower capital requirement for new companies and simplified registration procedures. China is pushing ahead with market-oriented reforms amid economic downward pressure. The move is expected to stimulate enthusiasm for innovation, encourage more business start-ups, and foster new growth momentum. China's economy rose 7.4 percent year on year in the first quarter,lower than the 7.7-percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 and marking the lowest quarterly expansion level since the third quarter of 2012. The administration's data also showed China had a total of 61.78 million market entities, with their registered capital hitting 106.37 trillion yuan by the end of March.