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BEIJING, March 14 (Reuters) - Real estate investment in China rose 9.9 percent in the first two months of 2018 from the same period last year, even as property sales softened in the face of government cooling measures, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.
Real estate, which directly affects 40 other business sectors in China, is considered a crucial driver for the economy. A housing boom was a major growth driver for the country last year, but is expected to gradually slow as official measures to curb property speculation drag on sales.
Over the first two months of 2018, property sales by area rose 4.1 percent year-on-year. That was lower than the 7.7 percent gain in 2017, which was a sharp drop from the 22.5 percent increase in 2016.
Property sales by area rose 6.1 percent in December, according to Reuters' calculations.
New construction starts measured by floor area rose 2.9 percent over January-February.
Property investment growth in December had moderated to 2.4 percent, the lowest since July 2016, according to Reuters' calculations. (Reporting by Kevin Yao and Lusha Zhang; Writing by Yawen Chen; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Kim Coghill)