UPDATE 1-China Jan-Feb property investment slows, sales drop

Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:43am EDT

Related Topics

* Jan-Feb property investment growth eases to 19.3 pct y/y

* Revenues from property sales drop 3.7 pct

* New contruction work down sharply

* Adds to views economy losing momentum

BEIJING, March 13 (Reuters) - China's real estate investment slowed in the first two months of 2014 while sales dropped from a year earlier, official data showed on Thursday, the latest signs of cooling in the property market as the broader economy as slows.

Real estate investment, which affects more than 40 other sectors from cement and steel to furniture, rose 19.3 percent in the January to February period from the same period a year ago, slower than the 19.8 percent annual growth in 2013, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Property sales in terms of floor space dropped 0.1 percent and fell 3.7 percent in terms of value in the first two months, the agency said in a statement on its website, www.stats.gov.cn

That compared with increases of 17.3 percent (measured by floor space) and 26.3 percent (by value), respectively, in 2013 as a whole.

Floor space newly started for construction slumped 27.4 percent in January-February compared with growth of 13.5 percent in 2013.

China's red-hot property market has shown signs of losing steam since late 2013 as local governments took further tightening measures and banks gradually tightened lending to this sector.

A mild cooling in the market could be welcomed by the government, which has spent more than four years trying to tame rising home prices. But a sharp correction in prices nationwide that could drag down the economy is the scenario the government is trying to avoid.

China will continue to curb speculative housing demand this year while employing differentiated policies in different cities based on various local conditions, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated on Thursday in a media conference at the end of China's annual parliament session.

State media last week quoted Vice Housing Minister Qiu Baoxing as saying that it is impossible for China's property market to have big crisis within 10 years.

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