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China's home prices rise in fewest cities since January 2016

[SHANGHAI] China home prices rose in the fewest cities since January 2016, adding to signs of a property slowdown as curbs on buyers bite.

New-home prices, excluding government-subsidised housing, in September rose in 44 of 70 cities tracked by the government, compared with 46 in August, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. Prices fell in 18 cities from the previous month and were unchanged in eight.

Stabilising home prices in the nation's largest cities are a welcome sign for Communist Party leaders gathered in Beijing to map policy for the next five years.

President Xi Jinping renewed a yearlong call that homes are built "to be inhabited'' and not for speculation in his speech at the twice-a-decade Party Congress, inking the language in one of the nation's top policy frameworks.

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Data last week showed home sales last month fell from year-earlier levels for the first time since March 2015, declining 2.4 per cent by value, and 5.7 per cent by area, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Mr Xi's speech showed "that instead of easing, we are more likely to see more tightening during or after the party congress," Alan Jin, a property analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd said before the data release.

Home prices fell 0.5 per cent in southern Guangzhou, the second consecutive monthly fall. Values in Shanghai and in Beijing declined 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. In Shenzhen, prices were unchanged.

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