China property loans ease in quarter, but still relatively strong

BEIJING Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:03am GMT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Bank lending to China's property sector eased in the last quarter of 2012 but remained at a relatively high level as the property market recovered, data from the central bank showed on Thursday.

Chinese banks lent 367.9 billion yuan ($59.17 billion) to home buyers and property developers between October and December, cooling from the third quarter's 416.8 billion yuan, though still sharply higher the first quarter's 242.7 billion yuan - the low point of last year.

China's property market began to show signs of recovery in mid-2012 as Beijing expanded monetary easing as part of government pro-growth policies.

Analysts attribute the moderating property loans to shrinking new lending quotas in the last quarter and fewer housing starts due to the cold weather.

Still, property loans accounted for 17.4 percent of total new loans issued in 2012, up from 15.4 percent in the first nine months of last year, the central bank said in a statement on its website, www.pbc.gov.cn

Outstanding mortgage loans at the end of December rose 14 percent from a year earlier to 8.1 trillion yuan, while outstanding loans to property developers rose 10.7 percent to 3 trillion yuan over the same period.

The data also showed new loans for public housing construction totalled 180 billion yuan in 2012, accounting for 67 percent of all loans to developers.

On the other hand, outstanding loans for fixed-asset investment rose 9.8 percent at the end of December to 21 trillion yuan from a year earlier, compared with a rise of 10.9 percent at the end of September.

(Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao, Aileen Wang and Lucy Hornby; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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