China property developers soar despite new restrictions

SHANGHAI, September 30, 2010 (AFP) - Shares in Chinese property developers soared Thursday as investors laid bets that the government's latest attempt to cool the real estate market would be its last for a while.

China's largest listed property developer Vanke surged 7.55 percent to 8.40 yuan (1.30 US dollars) while Poly Real Estate Group ran up 8.90 percent to 12.40 yuan after Beijing unveiled new measures to rein in prices.

Pan Wei, an analyst with Galaxy Securities, said the jump in property stocks indicated some investors believed "there will be a pause in further tightening in at least the short term and there is little risk to snap up shares now."

Real estate shares had been under pressure recently in anticipation of the new measures.

The State Council, or cabinet, on Wednesday ordered banks not to provide loans for third home purchases and above, and said down-payments on all home purchases would now have to be at least 30 percent.

The measures also limited the number of homes that people can buy in cities where prices are too high, have risen too quickly or where supply is tight.

The cabinet urged banks to strengthen their oversight of consumer loans, banning them from being used to buy homes.

It also called for a trial reform of the property tax now being carried out in some cities to be sped up and gradually expanded across the country.

The finance ministry said Thursday after trading closed that a residential property tax would be necessary to help restructure the economy.

It said such a tax would promote the "intensive and economical use of land" and bring about "appropriate housing consumption".

The new policies, which follow a slew of measures introduced since April including credit restrictions and higher mortgage rates, offered little surprise, Beijing Gao Hua Securities said in a note.

"Though more details could be announced in the coming days, we believe they will be more of a reiteration of existing measures instead of new ones from what was announced by the central government in April this year," it said.

Analysts, however, warned the rally in property stocks was likely to be short-lived.

"For the moment I would like to take caution," Pan said.

"I would call it a rebound rather than taking it as a trend."