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[SHANGHAI] China's home sales grew last month at the slowest pace in more than two years amid regulators' moves to rein in soaring prices.
The value of new homes sold rose 4.3 per cent to 779 billion yuan (S$159.13 billion) in July from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The increase is the smallest since March 2015, when the home market started to take off on policies to encourage demand from buyers.
Restrictions in bigger cities had spurred buying in smaller ones, forcing local authorities to sharply reverse policies they had put in place last year to reduce a glut of unsold homes in second and third-tier areas.
Northern provincial capital Shenyang last week unveiled buying curbs less than a year after rolling out supportive rules aimed at easing inventory.
The headline numbers show the property market "has cooled" and speculation has been curbed, the statistics bureau's spokesman Mao Shengyong said during a Monday briefing in Beijing.
Looking ahead, real estate investment will slow "at a gradual pace," Mr Mao said.
Last month, investment in real estate development gained 4.8 per cent from a year earlier, down from 7.9 per cent in June, according to Bloomberg calculations.
Slower property investment dragged on China's fixed-asset investment excluding rural areas, which rose 8.3 per cent in the first seven months of the year, falling short of analysts' forecast that it would increase 8.6 per cent.
New starts, a leading indicator of real estate investment, snapped a nine-month growth streak last month, falling 4.9 per cent from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations.