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Home prices, inflation irk most Chinese

(Shanghai Daily)

08:43, September 16, 2011

The number of people complaining about high home prices in China is at a two-year record, a central bank survey showed yesterday.

And there's a stronger expectation of higher inflation this quarter, the People's Bank of China said, based on a survey of 20,000 urban households in 50 cities.

The number of people who said property prices are "too high" rose 1.3 percentage points from last quarter to 75.6 percent, the highest since the bank's survey started including real-estate data in the first quarter of 2009.

People who expected property prices to rise over the rest of the year also increased 1.7 percentage points to 37.9 percent. The proportion of households who plan to buy property next quarter dropped 0.4 percentage points to 14.2 percent, the survey said.

"Home prices in August rose 8.9 percent from last year, " Li Shaoming, a researcher with China Jianyin Investment Securities, wrote in a report. "The decline of investment and sales in the property sector is already a trend under tight policies."

The report said that 72 percent of China's residents considered consumer prices "high and hard to afford," 3.8 percentage points higher than last quarter.

It found 4.6 percent believe consumer prices will rise in the next quarter, 4.1 percentage points more than in the previous three months.

"Expectations for future price increases remain strong," the bank said.

The survey result goes against some analysts' expectations that inflation will gradually ease over the rest of the year. Official data showed inflation in August cooled to 6.2 percent from a 37-month high of 6.5 percent in July.

While the cost of living is rising, more people are opting to save rather than spend, the report said.

Some 82.8 percent of urban residents prefer to save, even though the benchmark one-year deposit rate of 3.5 percent has lagged behind inflation for 19 months.

Only 17.2 percent said they wanted to spend more, and a two-year record low of 9.2 percent said that stocks are their main investment.

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