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Monday, 12 January 2009

China house prices fall

BEIJING - CHINESE property prices fell in December for the first time since 2005, state media reported on Saturday, quoting official figures.

The price of housing in 70 major cities fell 0.4 per cent year-on-year, Xinhua news agency said, quoting from a statement issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, and the National Bureau of Statistics.

The southern boom town of Shenzhen, which neighbours Hong Kong and symbolises the country's economic reforms, saw the largest fall, with prices down 18.1 per cent.

Property prices in the 70 cities were down 0.5 per cent compared with November.

Xinhua said it was the first fall since July 2005, when the government started publishing the figures.

Since November, the authorities have exempted property transactions from stamp duty and capital gains tax in an attempt to avoid a crash in the property market, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the country's urban fixed-asset investment.

Local authorities in several regions have already taken initiatives to boost the real estate market, including preferential rates for buying housing. -- AFP

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