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Growth in China property investment slows to 7.8 pct in Jan-Oct

BEIJING, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Property investment in China rose 7.8 percent in January-October from the same period a year earlier, slowing from an 8.1 percent gain in the first nine months of 2017, official data showed on Tuesday.

Property investment in October alone rose 5.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on the data.

A property boom has been a major growth driver for China's economy this year, but it has been expected to slow as more cities unveil measures to curb soaring home prices and banks raise mortgage rates in response to tighter monetary policy.

New construction starts measured by floor area rose 5.6 percent percent in January-October, compared with a 6.8 percent rise in the first nine months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

Property sales by floor area grew 8.2 percent, slowing from the 10.3 percent growth seen in the first nine months of the year.

Taming an overheated property market has been a top priority for China's policymakers this year as they sought to ensure social stability and reduce risks to the financial system as China shifted its focus to more high-quality economic growth.

At China's recently concluded Communist Party Congress, President Xi Jinping said the country would focus on quality over speed as it pursued economic growth and implemented its pledge to beat pollution and to clamp down on riskier types of lending.

Home prices in the biggest cities have softened slightly while gains in smaller cities have slowed in response to oficial cooling measures, though there have been no hints of a crash that authorities fear could destabilise the economy or stir social unrest. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Eric Meijer)