Saturday, December 20, 2008

Property Stocks Rally On China's Fiscal Boost

Source : The Business Times, December 20, 2008

But measures might have limited impact on reviving sales amid tough economic conditions, analysts say

leePROPERTY stocks savoured a sweet respite over the last two days from the market gloom after China announced plans to boost the real estate market.

LIGHTER TAX BURDEN - The Chinese government will abolish urban real estate tax and cut the transaction tax for properties with ownership of two years or less

But the rally is likely to be short-lived, some analysts argued, noting that the measures might have a limited impact on propping up sales amid a difficult economic climate.

The Chinese government said on Wednesday that it would abolish urban real estate tax, as well as cut the transaction tax for properties with ownership of two years or less.

It added that it would encourage banks to extend credit lines to developments in the mass-market housing segment.

Bigwigs in the property market - CapitaLand and Keppel Land - saw the biggest jump among sector peers with their exposure to the mid-tier Chinese market.

Shares of property bigwig CapitaLand surged 16.6 per cent over the last two days to end at $3.30 yesterday while shares of Keppel Land jumped 20.9 per cent to finish at $1.79.

Yanlord Land Group - which targets the Chinese luxury segment - rose on the dovetails of the rally in property stocks on Thursday, rising 17.4 per cent to $1.01.

But the stock fell back 2 per cent to 99 cents yesterday, with analysts noting that these measures are not targeted at luxury players.

'As the overall policy still focuses on supporting the housing needs of the low to middle income homebuyers, high-end developers might not benefit substantially from these changes,' wrote DBS Vickers Securities analyst Carol Wu.

'While the policy environment has continued to improve, full recovery of the sector remains uncertain amid the deteriorating economic outlook,' she said, adding that excessive inventory would prompt developers to cut prices and that the property downcycle trend in China could drag on for as long as two years.

Reuters reported yesterday that an analyst from Morgan Stanley saw the sharp increases in shares of Keppel Land as 'premature and unjustifiable' as solvency and refinancing risks were non-issues for the firm.

It would take time before such fiscal measures filter down to the provinces, said Brandon Lee, an analyst from DMG & Securities.

These steps are also aimed at cushioning a fall in demand rather than to engineer sales given the expected rise in unemployment in China, said Barclays Capital economist Leong Wai Ho.

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