China home price inflation slows for 2nd month in Feb

Written by Reuters | Beijing | Updated: Mar 19 2014, 09:06am hrs
Chinas home price inflation slowed for the second straight month in February, the latest sign of cooling in the countrys frothy property market due to government policy curbs and weaker domestic demand.

Average new home prices in Chinas 70 major cities rose 8.7% in February from a year earlier, easing from the previous months 9.6% rise, according to Reuters calculations based on official data published on Tuesday. In month-on-month terms, prices rose 0.3% in February, slowing from Januarys rise of 0.4%.

Chinas red-hot property market has shown signs of losing steam since late 2013 as local governments took further tightening measures and banks gradually tightened lending to the sector.

A mild cooling in the market could be welcomed by the government, which has spent more than four years trying to tame rising home prices on concerns of an asset bubble.

An abrupt property slowdown, however, could add to concerns about bad debts and further weigh on the worlds second-largest economy, which slowed markedly in the first two months of the year.

State-owned China News Services reported on Monday that developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate, based in eastern Zhejiang province, is on the brink of bankruptcy, owing 15 domestic banks 2.4 billion yuan ($388.5 million).

The National Bureau of Statistics said new home prices in Beijing rose 12.2% in February from a year earlier, compared with Januarys year-on-year increase of 14.7%. Shanghais home prices were up 15.7% from a year ago, versus 17.5% annual growth in January.

Reuters started its weighted China home price index in January 2011 when the NBS stopped providing nationwide data, only giving home price changes in each of 70 major cities.

Chinas property market has seen a divergence between big cities, where strong demand and short supply have pushed up prices rapidly, and small ones, where rises have tended to be slower on soft demand.

Home prices fell month-on-month in four of 70 major cities in February, monitored by the NBS, down from five in January.

Premier Li Keqiang has promised to employ differentiated property policies this year in different cities based on local conditions.

Official figures showed developers slowed their expansion pace at the start of this year, with floor space newly started for construction slumping 27.4% in January-February from a year ago, adding to caution about the outlook.

China FDI data indicates sharp slowdown in Feb

China drew $19.3 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first two months of 2014, up 10.4% from a year earlier, the commerce ministry said on Tuesday, indicating a sharp slowdown in February due to the Lunar New Year holidays. Based on the published data, FDI in February alone was $8.6 billion, up 4.1% from a year earlier, slowing sharply from a 16.1% increase in January. FDI from the top 10 Asian economies rose 11.6% in the first two months to $16.9 billion, while investment from the US jumped 43.3% to $711 million and investment from the European Union fell 13.8% to $1.1 billion, the ministry said. Despite weak international investment and the fact that we face various problems in our development, the FDI data shows that foreign investors are still very confident, Shen said. Shen said that it is normal to see greater two-way fluctuations in the yuan and that the government will still keep the yuan basically stable, echoing recent central bank comments. On Saturday, the Peoples Bank of China doubled the yuans daily trading range, so that it can now rise or fall 2% around the daily midpoint rate.