* China Feb new home prices +2.1 pct on year, +1.1 pct on
* New home prices rise in 66 of 70 cities vs 53 in Jan on
BEIJING, March 18 China's new home prices rose
in February from a year ago for a second consecutive month,
though gains are expected to ease after the government unveiled
this month tougher tax plans to curb real estate speculation.
Average new home prices across China climbed 2.1 percent
last month, versus a year-on-year increase of 0.8 percent in
January, according to Reuters' calculations from data released
by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
China's cabinet announced on March 1 that it planned to
introduce a 20 percent capital gains tax and higher downpayments
and mortgage rates for second-time home buyers in cities where
prices are deemed to be rising too fast.
"This is not going to be sustained after the government's
new rules. Price rises will ease, but will not head south,"
Jianguang Shen, chief China economist with Mizuho Securities
Asia, told Reuters after the data.
He said China's new government, which formally took office
last week, must increase land supply for housing construction
and expand the property tax on home owners to calm the market.
Local governments are expected to announce how they will
implement those plans by the end of this month, Qi Ji, a
vice-minister of housing and rural-urban development was quoted
by domestic media as saying.
China's fight against property speculation has headed into
its third year but many middle-class Chinese are still priced
out of the urban housing market.
Home prices rose month-on-month in 66 of 70 major cities
monitored by the NBS in February, up from 53 in January, the NBS
New home prices in Beijing in February rose 5.9 percent from
a year earlier, compared with January's year-on-year increase of
3.3 percent. Shanghai's prices were up 3.4 percent in February
on a year ago, versus 1.3 annual growth in January.
China's home price inflation may be steeper than official
data suggests, with a near quadrupling of home sales in the
capital last week just after the government unveiled tax plans
to curb speculation, a sign that investors have giant gains to
Analysts say the strong transaction data reinforces an
emerging view that the government believes demand is running
hotter than official measures of headline price rises imply.
China's home prices began their latest climb in mid-2012 as
the People's Bank of China, the central bank, began easing
monetary policy to underpin faltering economic growth.
Reuters started its weighted China home price index in
January 2011 when the NBS stopped providing nationwide data. The
NBS now only publishes price changes for each of the 70 major