BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) - Average home prices in 100 Chinese cities fell 0.3 percent in February from a month earlier, down for the sixth straight month and accelerating from a 0.18 percent fall in January, a private sector survey showed on Thursday.
The reading from the China Real Estate Index System (CREIS)provides more evidence that two years of government measures to curb property speculation are working, but adds to investor concerns that it could increase the risk a steep slowdown in the world’s No 2 economy.
Home prices were still on the rise in February from a year earlier, by 0.93 percent on average to reach 8,767 yuan ($1,400)per square metre in the 100 cities surveyed, although the increase has been easing since August 2011, according to the CREIS, which is affiliated with China’s largest online real estate company Soufun Holdings.
The data comes ahead of official figures home prices in 70 major cities by the National Bureau of Statistics, due on March 18. NBS numbers for January showed home prices fell for the fourth month running and stopped rising in all cities for the first time since the tightening measures were introduced in late 2009.
The private survey showed that home prices fell in all of China’s top 10 cities last month from January, at an average rate of 0.31 percent and they also declined 1.41 percent from the same period last year.
As sliding property transactions hit their balance books, China’s debt-ridden developers and local governments are expected to intensify their arguments for a relaxation of the tightening measures. ($1 = 6.2936 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Langi Chiang and Nick Edwards; editing by Patrick Graham)