* April home prices +6.7 pct y/y, slowest gains in 11 months
* New home prices fell in 8 cities m/m in April vs 4 cities
* Official says home prices generally stable
(Adds comments, details)
BEIJING, May 18 Growth in average new home
prices in China slowed to a near one-year low in April, official
data showed on Sunday, adding to concerns about the weakness of
the property market and what policymakers can do if prices start
to fall too sharply.
Average new home prices in 70 major cities rose 6.7 percent
in April from a year earlier, easing from the previous month's
7.7 percent rise, according to Reuters calculations based on
data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The challenge for the government is to ensure a cooling in
the market does not turn into a more abrupt correction that
would pose risks to the banking system and weigh on the economy.
In month-on-month terms, prices rose 0.1 percent in April,
slowing from March's rise of 0.2 percent.
New home prices fell in eight of the 70 cities in April from
the previous month, up from four cities in March.
"The home prices in 70 major cities were generally stable
and the gains were easing," Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician
at NBS said in a statement accompanying the data.
Among 70 cities monitored by the NBS, only the eastern city
of Wenzhou saw a 4.1 percent annual drop in prices in April, the
The price data followed official figures last week that
showed property investment, construction activities and sales
slowed across the country.
Beijing has spent more than four years trying to tame rising
home prices on concerns of an asset bubble and the measures
started to take hold toward the end of last year.
Existing home prices dropped month-on-month in 22 cities in
April, compared with 14 in March, the NBS data showed.
Prices in the capital Beijing rose 8.9 percent in April from
a year earlier, easing from March's year-on-year increase of
10.3 percent, and marking the sixth month of slowing gains.
Shanghai's price gains eased to 11.5 percent in April from a
year ago, versus 13.1 percent annual growth in March.
Analysts believe the health of property market will be an
important factor in whether the world's second-largest economy
suffers a shallow or deep downturn.
The slowdown in property market helped pull down annual
economic growth to an 18-month low of 7.4 percent in the first
quarter of 2014.
Facing slack sales and high inventories, property developers
have slowed their activities and some have started to cut prices
to boost sales. So far widespread price cuts have not been seen
and the data showed home prices in most cities still rising,
albeit at a slower pace.
(Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Sui Lee Wee; Editing by Matt