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BEIJING -- New home prices rose more steeply in more Chinese cities in February, putting the government in an increasingly complex situation of regulating the bubble-ridden market, official data showed Monday.
Of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics, 66 cities saw home prices increase within 3.1 percent in February from a month earlier, while three saw prices remain unchanged and only one reported price falls.
People visit a real estate stand during the 2013 Spring Real Estate exhibition in Shanghai March 15, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
The figures indicate warming in the housing market since January, when 53 cities reported a growth margin of no more than 2.2 percent.
New home prices in Beijing and Guangzhou saw the largest increase of 3.1 percent on a month-on-month basis, followed by Shanghai and Shenzhen with price hikes of 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
East China's Wenzhou reported home prices declining by 0.4 percent from January, the data showed.
On a year-on-year basis, 62 cities registered rising prices, with Guangzhou showing the biggest rise, of 8.2 percent, up drastically from January's highest growth rate of 4.7 percent.
Beijing recorded the second-largest year-on-year growth of 7.7 percent.
Wenzhou, meanwhile, saw its home prices plunge 10.7 percent from the same period of last year.
Zhang Dawei, director of Centaline Property's research center, attributed the growth to panicky home buyers driven into hurried purchases by worries that prices may rise further following the recent gaining streak.
In addition, new house supplies in the country's first-tier cities kept falling, which also contributed to the rise, he said.
His words were echoed by Su Xuejing, an analyst with the research division of China Securities Co, who believes that pressure continues to be exerted on home prices as the country's housing stock has shrank for two consecutive months.
Major cities including Beijing and Shanghai have recorded the number of houses for sales dipping to a near-eight-month low, Su said.
Since 2010, the Chinese government has adopted a range of measures, including restricting third-home purchases and introducing property tax trials, to reel in the runaway real estate market, which has been the country's key economic driver in recent years.
However, home prices started to rebound unexpectedly in the second half of 2012, shored up by the country's pro-growth policies, including two consecutive interest rate cuts and the lowering of banks' reserve requirement ratio.