China’s property investment slides for 17th month in July

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s property investment extended its fall for the 17th consecutive month in July, and home sales slumped, official data showed on Tuesday, as a deepening debt crisis weighs on the sector.

Property investment fell 17.8% year-on-year in July after slumping 20.6% the prior month, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Property sales by floor area fell for the 25th straight month in July, down 23.9% on year last month from a 28.1% decline in June.

The grim figures come as the country’s largest private real estate developer Country Garden is seeking to delay payment on a private onshore bond for the first time, piling pressure on Beijing to step in.

The real estate sector, once a pillar of China’s economy, has already seen plunging sales, tight liquidity and a series of developer defaults since late 2021.

A debt crisis in the sector has deepened in recent days with a growing list of private developers starting restructuring processes amid increasing calls for Beijing to roll out stimulus to prop up the sector which accounts for roughly a quarter of the economy.

China’s top leaders at a politburo meeting in July pledged to adjust property policies, fuelling speculation stimulus might be on the way.

Markets expect more stimulus measures to be implemented in major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, including easing mortgage curbs, reducing down payments and mortgage rates, and relaxing home purchase curbs in certain areas.

Nationally, property investment fell 8.5% in the first seven months after sliding 7.9% in January-June.

Sales declined 6.5% in January-July from a year earlier, compared with a 5.3% fall in the first six months.

New construction starts measured by floor area fell 24.5% year-on-year, after a 24.3% drop in the first six months.

Funds raised by China’s property developers were down 11.2% on year after a 9.8% slide in January-June.

(Reporting by Liangping Gao, Ella Cao and Ryan Woo. Editing by Sam Holmes and Lincoln Feast)