People look at miniature models of new apartments at a property sale centre in Yichang
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's new home prices rose at a slightly faster pace in October after gains had held steady the previous month, as prices remained resilient in the face of falling sales and a tighter liquidity environment.
China's housing market has seen a near two-year boom, giving the economy a major boost but stirring fears of a property bubble, with the government taking strong measures to curtail purchases.
Authorities have been particularly focused on curbing speculative lending in the housing market and have continued a broad effort to defuse financial risks from a rapid build-up in debt in the economy.
Average new home prices rose 0.3 percent month-on-month in October, compared with a 0.2 percent gain in September, according to Reuters calculations from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data out on Saturday.
The number of cities surveyed that recorded monthly increases in prices increased in October, indicating broadening strength in markets nationwide.
New home prices rose 5.4 percent year-on-year in October, down from September's 6.3 percent increase as rapid increases subside in the face of government efforts to engineer a soft landing in the housing market.
Data on Monday showed household loans, mostly for property purchases, fell to 450.1 billion yuan in October from 734.9 billion yuan in September.
While monthly price rises peaked in September 2016 at 2.1 percent nationwide, they have softened only slowly, regaining momentum as buyers shrugged off each new measures to curb speculation.
Prices for new private homes in top-tier cities fell 0.1 percent in October, narrowing from a 0.2 percent decline in September, the NBS said in a note accompanying the data.
In the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, prices fell 0.1 percent after being flat in September. They fell 3.3 percent from a year earlier.
Property values rose 0.2 percent on-month in Shanghai after remaining unchanged in September.
As mega-cities like Beijing impose increasingly stringent measures, speculators have moved to smaller centres this year where authorities offer cheap credit and impose few restrictions in the hope of clearing a glut of unsold homes.
Property prices in tier-3 cities rose 0.3 percent from a 0.2 percent increase in September, the NBS said in the note.
While market watchers do not anticipate significant price declines or a crash, weakness in property and construction is starting to drag on broader economic growth.
Gross domestic product growth eased to 6.8 percent last quarter from 6.9 percent in the first half, with a marked deceleration in the property sector.
Data on Tuesday showed property sales in October fell at the fastest rate in more than 2-1/2 years and housing starts slowed sharply, reinforcing views that China's robust growth is starting to cool.
The majority of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported a monthly price increase for new homes. Fifty reported higher prices in October from 44 in September.
(Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Robert Birsel)