China home prices post worst performance in a year on curbs


China's February home prices posted the worst performance in a year with almost half of the cities monitored by the government falling from a year ago as the country maintained curbs on the property market, said Bloomberg.

New home prices fell in 27 of 70 cities last month from a year earlier and prices were unchanged in six cities, the national statistics bureau said in a statement on its website yesterday. That is the worst since the government began at the start of 2011 releasing individual data for 70 cities instead of a national average.

Premier Wen Jiabao said last week housing prices remain far from a reasonable level and called on the government not to slacken efforts to regulate the home sector. Relaxing the curbs could cause "chaos” in the market, Wen said. China's two-year campaign to rein in home prices has included measures such as higher down payments and mortgage rates, and home purchase restrictions in 40 cities.

"China's home prices fell further, but it doesn't mean there will be a policy loosening any time soon," said Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in a phone interview. "The government is not worried too much about the impact of a slowing property market on economic growth because investment in social housing will still be big."

Home prices will need to see a "meaningful correction" by falling 20 percent to 30 percent from last year's peak before the government relaxes policies on property, Qu said.

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