Developers were the star performers on the stock market yesterday after premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang said urbanisation would drive most of the country's development in the next decade.
While many Hong Kong-listed mainland developers climbed to 52-week highs, developers listed on the mainland also rallied after a long lull following Beijing's moves to check property prices.
Some of the top-performing developers on the Hong Kong exchange yesterday were CC Land, Zhong An Real Estate, Top Spring International, Sunac China, Sino-Ocean Land, Greentown China and Chinese Overseas Land and Investment.
"The recent rally can hardly be explained by housing market fundamentals. It's driven more by improved liquidity in the Hong Kong market with the inflow of hot money," Mizuho Securities property analyst Alan Jin said.
On the mainland, nine property A shares, including Tianjin Songjiang, rose the maximum permissible 10 per cent. Dazhong Insurance fund manager Wu Kan said the rally was mainly due to Li's comments.
While meeting World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, Li said China's biggest development potential lay in urbanisation.
About 690 million people, or 51 per cent of the mainland's population, live in urban areas. That ratio is expected to rise to more than 60 per cent by 2020 by conservative estimates, meaning cities have to accommodate an additional 100 million-plus people by then - 14 times Hong Kong's present population.
But mainland property prices are not expected to rally in the near future as curbs on homebuying in major cities are likely to stay in place, say researchers and developers. Checking property speculation would be a "long-term" task of the government and curbs in large cities were necessary to prevent prices from soaring, said Chen Huai, former head of the policy research centre at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
Participants at a financial forum hosted by Caijing magazine on Thursday debated the rationale of maintaining the curbs in more than 40 cities introduced at the beginning of last year.
Huayuan Real Estate chairman Ren Zhiqiang said the government couldn't reverse the curbs now because prices would jump up again if it did so. "The curbs are like painkillers, they fail to tackle the root problem."
Last month, home prices in 35 of the 70 cities tracked by the government rose from September, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Sales have also been recovering from the trough at the beginning of the year, suggesting demand from end-users.
"The curbs fail to address the problem of uneven income distribution. If the policy is loosened, the affluent will return to the market and drive up the prices and the poor will bear the brunt of it," Ren said.