China's Jan home prices up 6.3% y/y, slowest since July 2018 as virus takes toll

BEIJING, Feb 17 (Reuters) - New home prices in China rose 0.2% in January from a month earlier, easing from a 0.3% increase in December, Reuters calculated from official data on Monday, as a coronavirus outbreak brought the country's property market to a halt.

On an annual basis, average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 6.3% in January, below the 6.6% growth seen in December and marked the slowest year-on-year pace since July 2018, Reuters calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed.

Home sales have plummeted as the virus outbreak keeps property showrooms shut and potential buyers are afraid or unable to venture outside for long.

Speculation is growing that more local governments may relax restrictions on buyers to reduce pressure on the economy. China has clamped down on property speculation since 2016 to stop prices from overheating, but they had still risen for nearly 6 straight years. (Reporting by Colin Qian, Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill & Shri Navaratnam)

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