China property: too soon to call Beijing’s rescue package a ‘game changer’, JPMorgan says

by Zhang Shidong at scmp.com

Investors will need to see more positive signals from China’s property market before calling a stabilisation in the industry, as the unprecedented bailout package introduced last week may be insufficient to instantly turn around the sector, according to JPMorgan Chase.

Expectations about an extended decline in home prices and shrinking incomes among wealthy families, plus jitters about the ability of cash-strapped private developers to deliver homes, will continue to keep homebuyers at bay, Zhu Haibin, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at the US bank, said at a briefing on Wednesday.

Those factors may partially offset the impact of the stimulus package, which includes cuts in the down payment and mortgage ratios as well as a 300 billion yuan (US$41.4 billion) relending facility to fund state purchase of unsold houses, he said.

“It remains to be seen whether the measures will become the game changer for the property market,” Zhu said. “We are cautious about the possibility that the property market will stabilise or rebound. A recovery may need more time than expected.”

The briefing was a warm-up to a two-day annual China summit hosted by JPMorgan, which starts in Shanghai on Thursday. The event will bring 2,500 delegates from 1,300 companies across 33 countries and markets, according to the company. Key speakers include Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chairman, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and Joe Tsai, co-founder and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the Post.

Policy support for China’s embattled property market is gaining traction after years of declines in home prices prompted bearish calls by foreign investors on China’s economic growth prospects and asset prices. An economic pillar that once accounted for a quarter of China’s economy, the market remains a potential drag on growth and a recent rally in stocks.

A Bloomberg gauge of Chinese property stocks trading in Hong Kong has jumped almost 40 per cent over the past month, helping to drive the Hang Seng Index into a bull market. Sentiment among homebuyers also appeared to improve after the sweeping measures were announced on Friday, with house-viewing requests jumping by about 20 per cent over the weekend at some agencies in first-tier cities like Beijing.