China’s campaign to cool house prices could ease

by BLOOMBERG

SHANGHAIHome prices rose in fewer Chinese cities last month and declined in some of the nation’s hottest markets, signalling that authorities may be able to limit additional curbs to cool overheating.

New-home prices, excluding government-subsidised housing, gained in 46 of 70 cities tracked by the government in August, compared to 56 in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. That was the smallest number of increases since January. Prices fell in 18 cities from the previous month and were unchanged in six.

Developers’ stocks rose on the prospect that Chinese leaders would feel less pressure to roll out additional property restrictions ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress slated to begin on Oct 18. Since last year, officials have imposed city-by-city curbs, seeking to rein in prices without triggering an industry slump that could undermine economic growth.

“Earlierconcernsaboutpossible policy tightening before the 19th Party Congress dissipated after data show less cities record home price increases in August, reducing the probability of further property con

trols,” said Toni Ho, an analyst with Rhb Osk Securities Hong Kong Ltd. “Investors have also been betting on strong sales in September which marks the start of the traditional peak season for home sales.”

A Bloomberg Intelligence index tracking 22 leading property companies, mostly listed in Hong Kong, surged the most in a month, up 4.4%. Guangzhou R&F Properties Co rallied as much as 10.8%, the most in almost two months.

Guangzhou, one of the nation’s biggest cities, finally joined Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in reporting flat or declining prices. Guangzhou’s prices fell 0.7% after rising for 28 months. Values slipped 0.4% in Shenzhen, a bigger decline than a month earlier. Prices were unchanged in Beijing and Shanghai.

The largest drop was in the southern tourist city of Haikou, on the tropical island of Hainan, where home prices fell 1%, after the city previously stepped up home-buying curbs to ease speculation.

Home sales increased last month at the slowest pace in almost three years, according to data released last week. — Bloomberg