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Smaller cities lead gains in China's April home price growth

China's new home prices continued to pick up in April even as the government put multiple property-cooling measures in place to curb the buying frenzy.

New home prices rose in 58 out of 70 major cities tracked by the country's National Bureau of Statistics, or NBS, up from with 55 in March. Prices fell in 10 cities from March and remained unchanged in two.

On average, new home prices climbed 0.5% in April from the month-ago period, compared with a 0.4% gain in March, according to a May 16 Reuters calculation based on NBS data.

The northeastern city Dandong, which lies on the border with North Korea, saw new home prices strengthen the most in April. Prices climbed 2% from March, as investors rushed to the city in hopes of acquiring a slice of the real estate pie after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the halting of nuclear tests.

As a response, the local Dandong government on May 14 issued a new policy that non-local residents will not be allowed to resell newly built homes purchased within two years, in order to prevent a property bubble.

Sanya, the southernmost city on China's Hainan Island, also saw new-home prices rise 1.9% month over month in April. Hainan has been under the spotlight recently as Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled plans to establish a free trade zone on the island by 2020.

In the meantime, prices remained largely stable across China's largest cities in April amid strict selling price controls. New-home prices edged up 0.2% in Beijing and 0.1% month over month in Shenzhen, while inching down 0.1% in Shanghai and Guangzhou.