The FINANCIAL -- China's housing sales in the first two months of the year slid 16.7%, driving hopes for more supportive measures from Beijing as effects of earlier easing in monetary and housing policy appeared to have worn off, according to Nasdaq.
Housing sales totaled 498.3 billion yuan ($79.6 billion), compared with 598.5 billion yuan a year earlier, according to National Bureau of Statistics data on Wednesday. China's housing sales in December alone totaled 938.4 billion yuan, and for the whole of 2014 slid 7.8% to 6.24 trillion yuan.
The statistics bureau releases combined data for January and February to limit distortions related to the Lunar New Year holiday.
The downturn in the country's housing market also hit builders' demand for land and other real estate-related investments.
Growth in property investment slowed to 10.4% or 878.6 billion yuan in the first two months this year, compared with 19.3% growth recorded in the same period last year. For 2014, property investment rose 10.5% to 9.50 trillion yuan.
China's policymakers are concerned that a persistent downturn in the property market could have wider economic ramifications. Authorities have cut interest rates twice in four months as well as lowered the amount of money banks have to set aside as reserves, moves aimed at boosting economic activity that also benefit the property sector.
There has been improved appetite for home purchases in first-tier cities following these accommodative measures, but housing sales in smaller cities with excess supply are still sluggish.
New construction starts across residential and commercial property in the first two months fell 17.7% to 137.4 million square meters. Construction starts measured by area fell 10.7% to 1.80 billion square meters in 2014.