Chinese property stocks tumbled to close at the lowest level in 14-years, as weak home sales and rising debt woes for major developers deepened.
(Bloomberg) — Chinese property stocks tumbled to close at the lowest level in 14-years, as weak home sales and rising debt woes for major developers deepened.
A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of developer shares fell 2.5% Wednesday, with China Evergrande Group and Times China Holdings Ltd. leading the decline. The gauge has plunged 44% so far this year, outpacing major benchmarks onshore and in Hong Kong.
Pressure is mounting after Country Garden Holdings Co., China’s former top builder, signaled it is headed for a first-ever default as a grace period to meet an interest-payment deadline ends. Weak property investment and sales, which was a laggard during an otherwise upbeat Chinese economic data release, highlights the need for stronger measures to contain an unprecedented housing crisis.
“The market is turning more bearish with Country Garden’s potential dollar bond default,” said Patrick Wong, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. The future of the industry “really depends on any further easing measures to support the housing market.”
Country Garden, which is at the center of China’s property crisis, must pay $15.4 million coupon on a dollar bond by the end of a 30-day grace period Oct. 17-18 or a default can be called. The company hasn’t clarified which day marks the official end of the period, given the initial missed deadline of Sept. 17 fell on a Sunday.
Meantime, Evergrande faces the once-unthinkable possibility of asset liquidation on Oct. 30 when a key court hearing takes place. A ruling to wind up the firm would wreak havoc on the struggling real estate giant that’s trying to finalize a restructuring plan to pay back creditors.
Latest data showed that China’s property slump remained a drag on the economy in September despite several steps taken by authorities in recent months to bolster the sector.
Property investment, a key driver of economic activity, contracted 9.1% in January-September from a year ago, a bigger drop than the 8.8% decline in the first eight months of the year. Home sales continued to slide, falling 3.2% year-to-date, while construction of new homes plunged almost 24% in the period.
In more bad news for cash-strapped builders, funding for property development dropped 13.5% on-year in the first nine months, after plunging 12.9% in the January-August period.
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