BEIJING, April 25 (Reuters) - Bank loans to Chinese home buyers and property developers rose sharply in the first quarter of 2014, Reuters calculations from central bank data showed on Friday, even as the property market has shown signs of cooling.
Chinese banks lent 797 billion yuan ($128 billion) to home buyers and developers in the first three months of 2014, up from 440 billion yuan in the fourth quarter and 12 percent higher than a year earlier.
Strong demand for property loans suggests China's housing market remains resilient even if growth is cooling. Official data showed home price gains slowed to an eight-month low in March.
Total outstanding property loans issued hit 15.4 trillion yuan at the end of March, up 19 percent from a year ago, though down a touch from annual growth of 19.1 percent at the end of December, the central bank said on its website. www.pbc.gov.cn
Outstanding mortgages at the end of March were up 20.1 percent from a year ago, also down a shade from December's annual 21 percent rise, it said.
China's property market has lost steam since late 2013 as authorities tightened controls on speculative buying, and as banks made it harder for home buyers and small developers to get loans.
Some analysts worry that a rapid cooling in China's property market, one of the few strong spots in the world's second-largest economy, may threaten Beijing's plans to manage a gentle slowdown in its economy. ($1 = 6.2489 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao; Editing by Kim Coghill)