China's November housing inflation eased to its lowest level in the year, a victory for Beijing's campaign to ward off property bubbles as it steadily loosens monetary policy to ensure a soft landing in the world's second-largest economy.
Average new home prices rose 2.2 percent in November from a year ago, the weakest monthly rise so far in 2011, according to Reuters calculations of the latest official data published on Sunday.
Home price inflation was 2.8 percent in October.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which tracks home prices in 70 major cities, stopped providing a nationwide home price index in January.
A Reuters weighted index, based on the NBS data, showed that average new-home price in China fell 0.2 percent in November from October, for the second month in a row.
The falling home price, in tandem with a sharp ease in China's consumer inflation in November from July's three-year peak, enables Beijing to tilt its policies more toward safeguarding economic growth, away from its top priority of calming inflation just a few months ago.
The NBS said new-home prices rose 1.3 percent in Beijing in November from a year ago and were up 2.4 percent in Shanghai, down from a rise of 1.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, in October.
But new-home prices fell in four cities, including Ningbo, Wenzhou, Haikou, and Nanchong, in November from a year ago, while they fell in only two of the 70 cities in October.
Worried about a rebound in home prices, China's top leaders reiterated this week that Beijing would maintain tightening steps against the property sector, including home-purchase restrictions, curbs of onshore and offshore fundraising options for developers, and higher down payments for multiple home buyers.
Analysts expect banks will gradually extend more mortgage loans and lower the mortgage rates as China gradually loosens monetary policy to boost economic growth that is now under serious threat from weakening external demand as its biggest trading partner, Europe, is mired in its sovereign-debt crisis.
China cut banks' required reserves on Nov. 30, earlier than market expectations, its first such move in three years.
(Reporting by Langi Chiang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Paul Tait)