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BEIJING, July 17 (Reuters) - Real estate investment in China rose 8.5 percent in the first half of 2017 from the same period a year earlier, easing slightly from 8.8 percent growth in the first five months, official data showed on Monday.
New construction starts measured by floor area were up 10.6 percent in the first half of the year, compared with a 9.5 percent rise in the first five January-May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
Property sales measured by floor area grew 16.1 percent in January-June from the same period a year earlier, up from 14.3 percent in the first five months of the year.
Real estate investment, which directly affects 40 other business sectors in China, is considered a crucial driver for the economy. But some analysts expect increasingly stringent cooling measures will eventually drag on investment and dampen construction activity.
Policymakers have prioritised stabilising an overheated property market ahead of a Communist Party reshuffle later this year, reiterating the need to avoid dramatic price volatility that could threaten the financial system and harm social stability. (Reporting by Cheng Fang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)