China's housing sales growth in August was the slowest in over two years, though developers kept building at a steady rate.
Housing sales by value in August rose 3.8% from a year earlier, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal based on data released Thursday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That compared with a 4.3% gain in July, and was the smallest increase since a contraction in March 2015.
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For the first eight months of the year, housing sales rose 14.2% from a year earlier, compared with a 15.9% increase from January through July.
Strong sales growth at the start of the year could offset a projected slowdown for the rest of the year due to property-buying curbs in China's big cities, analysts say. At least 12 large and mid-sized developers raised their full-year sales targets recently, a sign of confidence in their ability to weather declining sales growth in the near term.
Developers also expect to support sales by stretching farther inland in China, buying land and building projects in smaller cities that have looser home-purchase controls. Such spending will continue to keep their financial leverage at a "high level," though their cash to short-term debt coverage remains manageable, S&P Global Ratings analysts noted in a recent report.
Property investment, including commercial and residential real estate, grew 7.9% in the first eight months of the year to 6.6 trillion yuan ($1.0 trillion), holding steady compared with the first seven months of the year.
Construction starts rose 7.6% from a year earlier to 1.2 billion square meters. That compared with 8% growth for the first seven months of the year.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 13, 2017 23:08 ET (03:08 GMT)