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Growth in China’s new housing prices came in at the slowest annualised pace in half a year last month, but accelerated in month-on-month terms to the quickest clip since November as more cities saw prices rise, according to official data.

The cost of new housing across 70 major cities rose 11.3 per cent in March from a year earlier, based on a weighted average from Reuters using data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The fall marks the fourth straight month of headline deceleration from a peak of 12.6 per cent in November

But short-term price trends rebounded, with average housing prices rising 0.6 per cent month on month in March, double the 0.3 per cent growth seen in February – albeit still well down from September’s peak of 2.1 per cent.

In month-on-month terms, average prices rose in 62 out of 70 cities and fell in 8. In February 12 cities had seen prices fall, with prices in two holding steady from a month earlier and rising in 56.

In year-on-year terms March saw prices rise in 68 cities and fall in just two, whereas in February three cities saw average prices drop.

The most populous urban centres saw growth soften slightly, according to a now regular report on top-tier cities’ price trends issued by the bureau. In Beijing prices grew 20.6 per cent year on year, down from 24.1 per cent in February, with a straight average of trends for the 15 listed top-tier cities recording a drop of about 3 percentage points to growth of 22.3 per cent.

However month-on-month price trends in those cities exited contraction, rebounding from an average marginal fall of 0.1 per cent in February to slight growth of 0.3 per cent in March.

China’s economy started 2017 with its strongest quarterly performance in 18 months, on the back of a surge in industrial activity, property investment and credit growth.

While the number of gauges tracking the health of China’s real estate markets has shrunk recently, the FTCR real estate index rose to a six-month high in March, with sales and prices up across city tiers, calling into question the sustainability of recently introduced property purchasing curbs.

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