UPDATE 1-China July property investment quickens, sales cool
(Adds comments, details)
BEIJING Aug 9 (Reuters) - Growth in real estate investment in China ticked up in the first seven months of this year, official data showed on Friday, and developers remain optimistic about the market this year due to strong demand, boding well for the broader economy.
Real estate investment, which affects more than 40 other sectors from cement and steel to furniture, rose 20.5 percent in the first seven months of 2013, accelerating from an annual increase of 20.3 in January-June, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.
China's property sector is one of the few bright spots in a slowing economy. The government has tried to tread a fine line between reining in rising property prices that threaten affordability for average wage earners and stifling growth elsewhere.
"Developers are quickening their restocking pace due to strong sales since the beginning of this year and optimistic expectations on the outlook of the market", said Lin Bo, head of research at China Real Estate Information Corp, a property data provider, in Shanghai.
Growth in revenues from property sales in the first seven months eased to 37.8 percent from 43.2 percent in January-June, though that was still higher than last year's gains of 10 percent, according to the NBS. It only issues cumulative figures on property investment and sales.
Strong home sales, ample liquidity and improved sentiment have enabled developers to replenish their land banks and quicken rates of construction.
Construction starts rose 8.4 percent in the first seven months of 2013, improving from an increase of 3.8 percent in the first half, the NBS data showed.
Total land area bought by developers fell 1.4 percent in the first seven months from a year earlier, improving from a drop of 10.4 percent in the first six months.
Since July a handful of real estate firms have announced refinancing plans to fund development of slum towns or housing projects, a sign that a ban on refinancing by listed developers may be quietly lifted.
China's politburo, the country's top decision-making body, did not mention a continuation of cooling steps on the property sector in a meeting about the economy held in late July, instead pledging to promote the stable and healthy development of the market.
Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, reaffirmed last week that China will promote stable growth of property investment.
Analysts interpreted those comments as an optimistic signal for the property sector as authorities are expected to keep property policies stable with no radical tightening to cool the market in the short term. (Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Jonathan Standing; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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