China property sales will slow in fourth quarter, prices stable — housing minister

Property sales in China dropped for the first time in over two-and-half years in September, according to Reuters calculations. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
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China property sales will slow in fourth quarter, prices stable — housing minister

BEIJING: China’s property sales will slow in the fourth quarter but prices will remain stable, the housing minister said on Sunday, as more signs emerge that the country’s nearly two-year housing boom has peaked.
Property sales in China dropped for the first time in over two-and-half years in September, while housing starts slowed sharply as cooling measures started to bite, according to Reuters calculations based on official data on Thursday.
Real estate, which directly effects many other business sectors, is a crucial driver for China’s economy but also poses significant policy risks as the government tries to tamp down soaring prices while avoiding a crash and an ensuing blow to confidence and economic growth.
Wang Menghui, head of China’s housing ministry, told reporters at an briefing in Beijing that “the national growth rate of transitions for commercial housing will slow in the fourth quarter.”
The rapid rise of property prices has been contained and the government will keep measures consistent and not loosen control, Wang said, adding that the market was healthy and stable.
“We will firmly maintain our position that houses are for living in, not for speculation,” he said.
The remarks were made as part of a once-every-five-years congress of the ruling Communist Party, which opened on Wednesday and runs until next Tuesday.
At the congress, the party sets broad policy directions and reshuffles top leaders.
China will release September home price data on Monday.
The softening in property activity appeared to drag on broader growth in the third quarter, as many economists had predicted. China’s economy grew 6.8 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, easing from 6.9 percent in the second quarter.
Further slowing is expected in coming months, but the head of the state planning agency said on Saturday that the economy is still on track to meet the official full-year growth target of around 6.5 percent.


Japan prosecutors charge Kobe Steel in fake data scandal

Updated 21 min 36 sec ago
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Japan prosecutors charge Kobe Steel in fake data scandal

TOKYO: Japanese prosecutors charged major steelmaker Kobe Steel Thursday with violating laws overseeing competition in a massive faking of product data.
Kobe Steel, which has repeatedly apologized for the practice, said in a statement that it took the allegations seriously and was working to prevent a recurrence.
“We once again deeply apologize,” it said, without elaborating on specific charges. “The entire Kobe Steel Group is working together sincerely.”
The systematic misconduct spanned years, affecting products sent to more than 680 companies, including aluminum castings and copper tubes for autos, aircraft, appliances and trains.
The scandal, which surfaced last year, has set off a class-action lawsuit and an investigation in the US.
Kobe Steel has said a zealous pursuit of profits, unrealistic targets and an insular corporate culture were behind the scandal.
There have been no reports of accidents or injuries related to the fake data.
Charges were not filed against any individuals, though the company has said managers who knew of the wrongdoing intentionally looked the other way.
The systematic faking of data took place at various plants throughout Japan, according to the prosecutors and the company. Kobe Steel launched an internal investigation and released the findings earlier this year.
The scandal was a major embarrassment for a famous brand in a nation built on quality “monozukuri,” a phrase likening manufacturing to a craft or a science.
Kobe Steel has promised each employee will return to “the roots of monozukuri” to win back trust.
If found guilty in a court, the company could be fined. It is not clear how much.
The chief executive at Kobe Steel and several other executives resigned over the scandal. Some managers took pay cuts.
Quality control woes have been rife at other top Japanese brands, including Nissan Motor Co. Nissan has acknowledged that illegal vehicle inspections occurred for years at its plants in Japan.