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China's property market slows in June as top-tier cities cool

A 100 Yuan note is seen surrounded by other 100 Yuan banknotes in this file picture illustration taken in Beijing on March 22, 2011. — Reuters pic
A 100 Yuan note is seen surrounded by other 100 Yuan banknotes in this file picture illustration taken in Beijing on March 22, 2011. — Reuters pic

BEIJING, July 18 — China’s home price growth slowed slightly in June as government efforts to keep prices in check weighed on larger cities though smaller cities maintained rapid growth.

Compared with a year ago, average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 10.2 per cent in June, decelerating from May’s 10.4 per cent gain, according to Reuters calculations based on an official survey out on Tuesday.

On a monthly basis, new home prices rose 0.7 per cent in June, the same as the previous month’s reading, Reuters calculations based on data issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.

“China’s 15 hottest property markets, mostly first- and second-tier cities, remained stable in June as a city-based property policy continued to take effect,” the NBS said in a statement accompanying the data release.

More than 45 cities, most of them top-tier cities with a sizable population, have imposed varying levels of restrictions since last October to curb fast-rising prices, with most of the latest measures introduced in late March.

These measures have started taking some heat out of the market, with sales and investment in property cooling slightly in the second quarter.

The cooling effect is most visible in China’s the biggest cities. Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing price growth slowed to 2.7 per cent, 8.6 per cent and 10.7 per cent, respectively, from a year earlier.

On a monthly basis, prices fell in Beijing for the first time since February 2015, while prices declined further in Shanghai and stalled in Shenzhen.

Nonetheless, real estate investment and sales growth both sped up in June after slowing in May, most likely due to more robust demand in smaller centres that have been encouraged to reduce inventory and are not subject to the strict curbs at work in bigger cities.

For example, Luoyang, a third-tier city in central China’s Henan province, topped the list in June, with prices of new units rising 2.3 per cent on-month, compared to a 1.3 per cent gain in May, taking the annual growth to 10.2 per cent.

That has also been reflected in stronger credit demand in the month from households. Household loans - mostly mortgages - granted in June rose to 738.4 billion yuan from 610.6 billion yuan in May, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by China’s central bank.

China’s booming property market has been a solid support for economic growth for the past year, but it came at the cost of soaring housing prices that have triggered fears of a market collapse and the breakout of systemic financial risk.

Keeping a lid on price fluctuations has become a priority for policymakers in a politically important year, with a major leadership reshuffle expected this autumn. — Reuters 

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