China banks head for fresh property stress test

13:34, April 22, 2011      

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China's banking regulator has told banks to conduct another round of stress tests to assess a possible plunge in property prices, envisioning a worst-case 50 percent fall in prices, the official China Securities Journal said on Friday.

The latest directive, which cited Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Nanjing as "high-risk" areas, called for tests to begin in early April, the newspaper said, citing regulatory officials.

Results will help the China Banking Regulatory Commission decide whether any more property tightening measures will be needed, the newspaper said.

Regulators since last year have told banks to conduct a series of tests to assess exposure to property loans, but they have also emphasized that these do not reflect their forecasts for the sector.

The move comes amid widespread concerns about a bubble in the hot property sector, and the government has ratcheted up its campaign to rein in price rises, including imposing a maiden property tax, lifting the down payment for home buyers and restricting purchases of multiple homes.

Chinese banks must further tighten lending to the property sector and to local government finance companies to ward off potential financial risks, the banking regulator said on Tuesday.

The campaign has produced some tentative results, with average nationwide property prices in 70 major cities rising 5.2 percent in March from a year ago, a slightly slower pace compared with February's 5.7 percent.

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