China’s new home prices increased marginally in September, survey data on Sunday showed.
Developers sped up apartment launches last month to take advantage of a range of support measures, which helped break a four-month slide.
Prices rose 0.05% on average from the previous month after falling since May, according to a survey by China Index Academy, a real estate research firm. Only 30 of the 100 cities surveyed reported a fall in new home prices.
This was the biggest month-on-month increase since October 2021 and stemmed from developers launching new, higher quality housing projects, the firm said in a report.
Recovery in small cities may take time
Confidence in the property sector, which accounts for one-fourth of economic activity, has been hit since 2021 when Beijing cracked down on massive debts accumulated by developers. Deepening problems in the sector this year have dragged on the world’s second-biggest economy and rattled global financial markets.
China has announced a raft of measures in recent weeks to boost home-buying sentiment, including easing some borrowing rules and relaxing home purchasing curbs in some cities.
These policies have given major cities like Beijing a tiny boost in new home sales, but some worry the improvement might be short-lived and could potentially dry up demand in smaller cities.
If such policies continue to be optimised, the report said, the market in first-tier cities are likely to stabilise this quarter while recovery in smaller cities might take longer.
China Evergrande Group, the world’s most indebted property developer, with more than $300 billion in liabilities, said on Thursday its founder was being investigated over suspected crimes.
Lottery ticket sales jump by 53%
Meanwhile, China’s lottery ticket sales in August soared to their highest for any month so far this year, amid public concern about the economy following months of mostly gloomy data including youth unemployment.
Nationwide lottery ticket sales jumped 53.6% in August from a year earlier to nearly 53 billion yuan ($7.25 billion), the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, citing data from the finance ministry.
From January to August, a total of 375.76 billion yuan of lottery tickets were sold nationwide, up 51.6% from a year earlier, the data showed.
The surging lottery ticket sales coincided with months of mostly soft economic data, with the unemployment rate of job seekers aged between 16 and 24 drawing particular attention from policymakers.
China’s youth unemployment rate hit a record high of 21.3% in June, according to official data.
Some social media commentators have linked the sharp rise in lottery sales in recent months to young people’s deepening economic worries.
“Young people are more likely to win 5 million yuan in the lottery than to earn 5 million from work,” one wrote on the popular Chinese microblog Weibo.
The country’s statistics bureau abruptly stopped publishing the youth unemployment statistic in August, saying it had been suspended as officials sought to “optimise” its data collection methodology, triggering a wave of social media criticism.
Feeling the pinch of rising housing costs and the slowing economy, jobless graduates have been forfeiting cities that have traditionally provided a stepping stone to middle-class wealth.
Earlier this year, China’s social media was alit with videos of jobless university graduates visiting temples to seek the blessings of the gods.
“The worse the economy is, the more lottery tickets will be sold,” wrote another commentator on Weibo.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard