China Jan-July property investment rises 7.9 pct y/y, vs 8.5 pct gain H1

BEIJING, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Real estate investment in China rose 7.9 percent in January-July period from the same period a year earlier, easing from 8.5 percent growth in the first half of 2017, official data showed on Monday.

New construction starts measured by floor area were up 8 percent in January-July, compared with a 10.6 percent rise in the first six months this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

Property sales measured by floor area grew 14 percent in January-July from the same period a year earlier, down from 16.1 percent in the first six months of the year.

Real estate investment, which directly affects 40 other business sectors in China, is considered a crucial driver for the economy. But some analysts expect increasingly stringent cooling measures will eventually drag on investment and dampen construction activity.

Policymakers have prioritized stabilizing an overheated property market ahead of a Communist Party reshuffle later this year, reiterating the need to avoid dramatic price volatility they fear could threaten the financial system and harm social stability. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Elias Glenn; Editing by Eric Meijer)