New home prices in China rose at a slightly slower pace in February versus a month earlier, a private survey showed on Friday, reflecting continued struggle in a property sector where government support measures are yet to reinvigorate sales.

The average new home price across 100 cities rose 0.14%, compared with an on-month gain of 0.15% in January, showed data from real estate researcher China Index Academy.

The southern mega-city of Shenzhen, which logged price rises in January after benefiting from easing market policies, experienced the steepest price drop in February at 0.28%.

Total sales by value among 100 real estate companies plunged 51.6% year-on-year in the first two months of the year, showed a separate China Index Academy survey.

The top three property developers in terms of sales volume were Poly Developments and Holdings Group, China Vanke and Greentown China Holdings.

China has been ramping up measures to halt a downturn in a property sector that has lurched from one extreme to the other since 2021 after a regulatory crackdown on high leverage.

Authorities in January launched a "whitelist" mechanism, asking state banks to boost lending to residential projects.

As of Feb. 28, 276 cities in 31 provinces have set up such mechanisms, with about 6,000 real estate projects proposed for financing, and commercial banks approving loans of over 200 billion yuan ($27.79 billion) for eligible projects, housing and financial regulators said on Thursday.

The government will hold its annual "Two Sessions" meetings next week, with market participants looking to the parliamentary meeting starting on 5 March for policy direction.

After Two Sessions, authorities may step up support for the property sector, including easing home purchase restrictions, lowering down payment ratios and mortgage interest rates, and increasing implementation of financing support policies for real estate enterprises, China Index Academy said.


($1 = 7.1967 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Christopher Cushing)