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China to curb real-estate enthusiasm amid asset bubbles concerns

BEIJING China's investment in the property sector will likely expand at a slower pace this year as Beijing looks to curb speculation, while infrastructure spending is expected to maintain a double-digit growth, state media cited a government adviser as saying.

Mr Li Wei, president of the State Council's Development Research centre, made the comments over the weekend at a seminar, China Economic Daily reported yesterday.

Mr Li also said China's exports would likely resume positive growth this year, as commodity prices stabilise and the impact of an appreciation in the US dollar gets absorbed.

China, the world's largest trading nation, posted a 7.7 per cent decline in exports last year, the second annual drop in a row and the worst since the global crisis in 2009.

The country's real-estate investment rose 6.9 per cent last year as national sales posted their strongest annual growth in seven years thanks to a property boom in top-tier cities.

"From mid to long term, the downward channel for Chinese economy has narrowed significantly," Mr Li was quoted as saying.

Consumer spending, a key driver for the economy, is also expected to extend a double-digit growth this year, he added.

China's consumer spending rose 10.4 per cent last year, while its infrastructure spending expanded 17.4 per cent.

The government should prioritise risk management in the financial sector, said Mr Li, echoing China's central bank that said it plans to tighten oversight in a range of areas, including corporate debt and bank assets.

The government has been worried over fast-rising leverage and the risk of asset bubbles in the rapidly growing economy, which expanded 6.7 per cent last year.

Surging home prices have already led to restrictions on purchases and lending in dozens of cities since October. - REUTERS

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