China's housing prices rose in January for the first time in nine months, a survey showed Saturday, breaking a decline that has weighed on growth in the world's second-largest economy.
The average price of a new home in China's 100 major cities rose 0.21 percent from December to 10,564 yuan ($1,690) per square metre, according to the independent China Index Academy, the first rise since April 2014.
The figure represents a turnaround from December's 0.44 percent decline, according to academy data.
On a year-on-year basis, however, prices were down 3.09 percent in January, greater than the 2.69 percent recorded last month, the statement said.
"Overall, with the real estate market expected to continue its turn for the better, prices in the 100 cities stabilised in the first month of the new year," said the statement.
"This month, prises have clearly risen in an increasing number of cities, including all of the first-tier cities," it added.
The average price in the top 10 cities grew to 18,990 yuan per square metre, down 1.23 percent from a year ago, the statement said.
As in December, Beijing, Shanghai and the southern boom town of Shenzhen were the only three top 10 cities to see annual price rises, it said, with Shanghai the best performer with a 1.92 percent increase to 32,278 yuan per square metre.
Prices in the eastern city of Hangzhou, meanwhile, declined 10.95 percent from last year to 16,215 yuan per square metre.
China has previously sought to rein in runaway property prices, a source of discontent among ordinary citizens, by introducing market control measures including limits on buying second and third homes.
But local authorities rely on the property sector for a significant proportion of their income, and many cities rolled back some of the measures last year as China's economy slowed and the central government relented.
The central bank in September eased mortgage policies for the real estate sector and in November imposed a surprise interest rate cut -- the first in more than two years -- that analysts said would benefit home buyers the most.