China's home prices continued to surge in December, though the pace of gains overall did not exceed the previous month's and rises eased in some major cities, suggesting that government tightening measures may be starting to bite.
Home prices in many Chinese cities have continued to set records in the past year despite a four-year long government campaign to cool the market, adding to the threat of a price bubble and forcing some local governments into a fresh round of curbs in November.
Average new home prices in 70 major Chinese cities climbed 0.4 percent in December on the month, easing from November's 0.5 percent and the fourth straight slowdown since August's 0.8 percent gain, according to Reuters calculations from data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday.
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"The slower home price gains in December showed recent curbs unveiled by local governments in tier-1 and some tier-2 cities have started to stabilize market expectations gradually," said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at NBS, in a statement accompanying the data.
Under pressure to rein in a red-hot housing market, many local governments have rolled out targeted measures to cool fast-rising property prices, including raising minimum down payments for second homes and promising to supply more land for building residential properties.
Prices in the capital Beijing rose 16 percent in December from a year ago, easing slightly from November's year-on-year increase of 16.3 percent, and the second month of slowing gains after a record jump in October.
In the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, gains eased to 20.1 percent and 19.9 percent respectively from 20.7 percent and 20.6 percent in November, their first slowdown this year.
Still high, no easing of curbs
Still, the government measures are yet to significantly curb buyer appetite and property inflation.
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The NBS data showed nationwide new home prices rose 9.9 percent in December from a year ago, the 12th consecutive annual rise and the same as the previous month's record gain.
The relentless rise of home prices suggests Beijing won't let up on its tightening measures anytime soon.