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China home prices rise in fewer cities in property slowdown

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A WORKER stands on a bank on the Huangpu River across the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai, China on Sept. 13, 2017. -- REUTERS

SHANGHAI — China’s home prices rose in the fewest cities since January, adding to signs of a real estate industry slowdown as officials persist with curbs to limit the risk of bubbles.

New-home prices, excluding government-subsidized housing, in August gained in 46 of 70 cities tracked by the government, compared with 56 in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

Prices fell in 18 cities from the previous month and were unchanged in six.

Developers’ stocks rose amid speculation that the government’s success in cooling home prices indicates that any further curbs will be limited.

So far, developers believe they can weather restrictions, with companies such as Country Garden Holdings Co. last month raising sales targets for the year.

Home sales increased last month at the slowest pace in almost three years, according to data released last week. The government is trying to control home prices with city-by-city curbs without triggering an industry slump that could undermine economic growth.

With credit tight, sales may soften further in the fourth quarter, Deutsche Bank AG analysts led by Hong Kong-based Jeffrey Gao wrote in a report before Monday’s numbers.

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 one percent, after the city previously stepped up home-buying curbs to ease speculation. — Bloomberg

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