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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

China says no change to property measures

SHANGHAI: China has denied it is easing restrictions aimed at cooling its red-hot real estate market, rattling Asia's major bourses on yesterday after reports that credit controls would be relaxed.

Dealers said the official comments led share prices in Shanghai to close 1.62 per cent lower, with a knock-on effect on Tokyo and Sydney's markets, which also closed lower.

Authorities in China have issued a slew of measures in recent months aimed at preventing the property market from overheating and causing a bubble that could derail the world's third-largest economy.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has urged local governments to strictly comply with lending policies designed to curb speculative investment in property, according to a statement dated Monday.

The ministry said "positive changes had emerged in the property market" as a result of the measures and repeated it would increase the supply of affordable homes.

Chinese property prices in June fell 0.1 per cent from the previous month, their first monthly fall since the first quarter of 2009, according to official data.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a separate statement that there had been no policy changes or revisions to mortgage requirements for second and subsequent home purchases.

"Commercial banks must strictly implement these rules unwaveringly," it said.

The remarks came after media reports said banks in first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai and the booming southern town of Shenzhen had resumed lending to buyers of third homes.

The reports pushed Chinese markets up 0.80 per cent on Monday.

The State Council in April said the down-payment for purchases of second homes must be at least 50 per cent and mortgage rates must be at least 1.1 times the benchmark rates.

The down-payment requirement and mortgage rates for purchases of third or subsequent homes must be "raised significantly" in line with banks' risk management policies, the cabinet said at the time.

Experts were mixed on how well the measures were working so far.

Zhang Gang, an analyst at Central China Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires: "It's too early to expect property tightening measures to turn around as the property prices didn't significantly decline." But Alastair Chan, an economist for Moody's Analytics, said there were signs that government policies were having an effect.

"China's residential property market is showing further evidence that the government's tightening measures are working, and the extent of the slowdown is likely to prompt a policy reversal in coming months," he wrote in a note.

Tokyo and Sydney's stock markets were both down yesterday partly on the decline in Shanghai, traders said, reflecting increasing linkages between the countries' economies.

In Chinese markets, property developers were hit yesterday shedding some of the gains from the previous session.

China Vanke, the nation's largest property developer by market share, fell 2.4 per cent to 7.46 yuan, after having risen 5.5 per cent in the previous session.

Poly Real Estate was down 4.3 per cent to 11.33 yuan after gaining 3.7 per cent the day before.


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