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June 1, 2023: New data show China’s massive property sector is still struggling to turn around, despite signs of recovery earlier this year.

“In a reversal from April, prices accelerated in the housing market, but sales slowed,” the U.S.-based China Beige Book said in its report for May, released Tuesday. That’s based on the research firm’s survey of 1,085 businesses from May 18 to 25.

“In commercial property, both pricing and transactions weakened sharply,” the report said. “Poor results in construction and reduced fiscal activity sent copper producers’ May earnings and production into contraction.”

Beijing eased its pressure on real estate developers the previous year following a crackdown on their debt levels in August 2020.

According to Moody’s estimates, the property sector and related industries have accounted for more than a quarter of China’s economy.

New home sales for the week ended May 28 grew by 11.8% from a year ago, a sharp slowdown from 24.8% growth a week earlier, pointed out Nomura’s chief China economist Ting Lu in a report Monday. That’s based on seven-day moving average data from Wind Information.

The report said both weeks’ sales volume was lower than in a similar period in 2019, before the pandemic. The report

noted that most of the sales refused stemmed from China’s largest cities. Those so-called tier-1 cities have been bright since people move to urban centers for jobs.

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