China calls for limits on property speculation

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for efforts to limit property speculation as the country's housing market shows signs of a rebound.

China has implemented several measures aimed at curbing runaway property prices for more than a year, including bans on buying second homes, hiking minimum down-payments and introducing property taxes in certain cities.

But lower mortgage rates following two interest rate cuts in less than a month and local governments testing the limits of the policy have caused property sales to pick up in some cities, analysts say.

"We must continue to firmly control speculative investment," Wen said on Saturday while visiting the eastern province of Jiangsu, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The government has been seeking to clamp down on speculative demand while at the same time encouraging banks to lend to first-time home buyers.

Wen said prices for new homes in "some" cities rose in June from May, but gave no details.

In May, the number of cities that recorded rises in home prices doubled to six, suggesting prices have started to rebound despite government controls.

Out of 70 cities tracked by the government, 43 registered month-on-month falls in home prices in May, while 21 were flat, official figures showed. The government is due to announce housing prices in 70 major cities for June on July 18.

Xinhua said the latest interest rate cut had fuelled expectations of a rebound in the property market.

The cut threatened to "lay waste to government efforts to return house prices to reasonable levels for ordinary Chinese," it said.

- AAP

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