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by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 18, 2012
Rises in new home prices moderated broadly in Chinese cities last month, official data showed Tuesday, after authorities vowed to keep a tight grip over the once red-hot sector.
Prices in 36 out of the 70 cities tracked by the government increased in August from July, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, down from 50 the previous month.
At the same time the cost of a new home in 20 cities fell in August, the bureau said, more than double the nine seen in July.
Prices in another 14 cities were unchanged, compared with 11 in July, bureau said.
The August result marked the end of a four-month streak in which the number of cities recording rising home prices had increased.
China has been implementing measures for more than two years to curb speculation in the housing market, including bans on buying second homes, raising minimum down-payments and imposing property taxes in certain areas.
The market, however, has showed some signs of recovery in recent months after Beijing cut interest rates twice and encouraged bank lending by slashing reserve requirements at banks to boost the country's slowing economy.
Local governments also covertly relaxed limits on the property sector.
Premier Wen Jiabao, however, said earlier this month that it was too early to loosen curbs on speculative property investment.
His comments came just days after the official Xinhua news agency reported that the housing ministry was studying new measures to beef up controls on the property sector.
China's decision-makers have been vigilant about the potential of skyrocketing home prices to foster social tension, particularly ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition due next month.
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