China's Dec home prices stay resilient as big cities rebound
* Dec new home prices +0.8 pct m/m vs +0.9 pct in Nov
* Annual growth +9.7 pct in Dec vs +9.3 pct in Nov
* Guangzhou in southern China was top price performer in Dec
* 59 out of 70 cities record higher prices vs 63 in Nov
By Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee
BEIJING, Jan 16 (Reuters) - China's home prices remained
buoyant in December as big cities rebounded despite tough
government curbs to cool prices, a sign that Beijing's recent
efforts to support its slowing economy may be putting a floor on
the real estate market.
Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities grew at a
slightly slower pace of 0.8 percent in December, according to
Reuters calculations from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)
data on Wednesday. November prices grew 0.9 pct on month.
That marks the 44th straight month of price increases,
despite government measures designed to rein in a real estate
boom that has spilled over from megacities to the hinterland.
Most of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported a
monthly price increase for new homes in December. However, in a
sign of weakening market strength, the number was down to 59
from 63 in November.
The sector's solid growth could cushion the impact of a
vigorous multi-year government crackdown on debt and escalating
trade tensions with the United States, although some analysts
say bubble risks are rising as prices continue to climb.
From a year earlier, new home prices in December rose 9.7
percent, accelerating from November's pace and almost doubling
from a 5.4 percent rise in December 2017.
China's real estate stocks moved higher after
Chinese policymakers have rolled out a flurry of measures to
support growth in 2018, including cutting the amount of cash
that some banks must hold as reserves several times to boost
lending to smaller businesses.
Analysts say relaxing some curbs on property buyers would be
one way for policymakers to avert a sharper economic slowdown,
but nationwide easing is unlikely as it raises the risk of a
bubble and adds to household debt.
BIG CITIES REBOUND
Price growth in China's top-tier cities - Beijing, Shanghai,
Shenzhen and Guangzhou - was robust in December compared with
the smaller cities, rising 1.3 percent from a month earlier,
compared with an increase of 0.3 percent in November, the NBS
said in a statement accompanying the data.
The top price performer in December was Guangzhou, a
megacity of 13 million in southern China, whose prices surged 3
percent month-on-month, NBS data showed.
The smaller tier-2 provincial capitals and tier-3 cities
that the official survey tracks posted a slightly smaller
monthly price gain of 0.7 percent, respectively.
There were also signs that some smaller cities - with less
onerous regulations - have tacitly loosened policies to boost
the market as sales cool.
In December, a city in eastern China reversed a rule
designed to curb real estate flipping, sparking speculation more
cities could follow suit as slowing sales weigh on the economy.
The policy reversal, announced by the city's government, was
the first of its kind since authorities around the country began
taking steps about two years ago to control soaring house
prices, according to state-run media.
China's top developers by sales, Country Garden,
China Vanke and China Evergrande, have seen
their contracted sales slowing in recent months.
New real estate loans in 2018 were 6.45 trillion yuan,
accounting for 39.9 percent of total new loans in the year, Ruan
Jianhong, a central bank spokeswoman, told reporters on Tuesday.
That percentage is slightly lower than in 2017, when it made
up 41.1 percent of total new loans, she said.
China's official real estate investment and sales data are
due to be published by the NBS next Monday.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith in SHANGHAI; Editing
by Jacqueline Wong)
First Published: 2019-01-16 03:56:35
Updated 2019-01-16 05:00:45
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