China's top central banker cautions against hot property prices

Residential buildings are seen after rain in Huangshan, Anhui province, China May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s central bank governor stepped up rhetoric against rapid rises in home prices and continued credit growth, signaling further action on top of recent fresh curbs across a number of cities to cool their overheated real estate markets.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), said the Chinese government is “paying close attention” to rising property prices in some cities and will take appropriate measures to promote the real estate market’s “healthy development”.

The remarks were made at a G20 meeting in Washington earlier this week and released by the PBOC on its website on Saturday.

A number of Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Wuhan, announced new restrictions on property purchases and mortgage down payment during China’s week-long National Day holiday in the beginning of October. The moves came as part of an effort to ward off property speculation.

Vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao echoed Zhou’s remarks in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency, saying the government’s targeted measures to curb hot property prices were “timely and appropriate”, according to a Xinhua report late on Saturday.

The two top officials’ latest remarks signaled that Beijing will continue to target property speculators and curb credit risks in the real estate sector to prevent bubbles.

While a property boom has helped to support China’s economic growth, fuelling demand for everything from construction materials to furniture, it is seen as adding credit risks to the banking system and China’s debt problem.

Zhou told the G20 meeting China will control credit growth as the global economy recovers.

The International Monetary Fund said in August that China needed to slow credit growth and stop funding weak firms, highlighting the worries among policymakers about the dangers of an unsustainable debt build-up triggering a banking crisis.

Reporting By Shu Zhang and Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam/Mark Heinrich