China says more cities record home price rises

The cost of new homes increased in more Chinese cities in November than in the previous month, official figures showed Tuesday, despite efforts from the government to keep the market in check.

Prices in 53 out of 70 cities tracked by the government rose month-on-month, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, up from 35 cities in October and 31 cities in September.

Prices of new homes dropped in 10 cities and stayed unchanged in the remaining seven cities, the bureau said.

China has been taking steps to keep house prices under control for more than two years. Measures included prohibitions on buying second homes, raising minimum down-payments and imposing property taxes in certain areas.

The government pledged to continue its control measures next year after a two-day central economic work conference over the weekend, but notably did not repeat its reference to "bringing home prices down to a reasonable level".

"This may indicate that China is unlikely to issue any new policies aimed at controlling home prices in the next few months, which may cause a rise in home prices," Wendy Chen, a Shanghai-based economist at Nomura Securities, told AFP.

She added that a government plan to push urbanisation, outlined at the economic meeting, may also boost demand for new homes and drive up prices.

The urbanisation plan is part of efforts to expand domestic consumption and achieve more balanced growth after having relied on exports for most of the past three decades.

The country's once red-hot economy that saw annual growth rates exceeding 10 percent has slowed markedly this year. The government expects gross domestic product to expand 7.5 percent in 2012, down from 9.3 percent in 2011.

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