China Home Prices Fall in More Than Half Cities Tracked

International Monetary Fund official Zhu Min said China will avoid an economic hard-landing even as government data showed property prices falling in most of the nation’s biggest cities.

“China’s heading for a soft-landing,” Zhu, a deputy managing director at the IMF, said in Hong Kong today. At the same conference, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens also expressed confidence in an economy he said is closing in on that of the U.S. Prices of new apartments fell in 45 of 70 cities in February from January, the statistics bureau said yesterday.

Premier Wen Jiabao has prolonged a crackdown on real-estate speculation to reduce the risk of asset-price bubbles and make housing affordable, telling lawmakers this month that prices remain far from “reasonable.” Zhu’s comments contrast with JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategist Adrian Mowat saying last week that weakness in car sales and cement and steel production indicate the nation is already experiencing “a hard landing.”

Chinese stocks fell on the property data, with the Shanghai Composite Index down 0.2 percent as of 1:32 p.m. local time.