March 20, 2012 / 9:28 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-China inflation expectations easing survey

* Survey shows fewer households expect consumer prices to rise

* Shows greater public acceptance of housing price rises

* More bankers expect looser policy (Adds details)

BEIJING, March 20 (Reuters) - Expectations of consumer inflation in China fell in the first quarter of 2012 from the fourth quarter of last year, according to the central bank’s latest survey of 20,000 households, published on Tuesday.

The index measuring inflation expectations was at 62.1 percent, down 3.3 percentage points from the previous quarter and 10.7 percentage points from the first quarter of 2011, the survey showed.

Among residents surveyed, 31.4 percent of respondents expected consumer prices to climb further in the second quarter, down 5.4 percentage points from the survey in the previous quarter.

Annual inflation cooled sharply to a 20-month low of 3.2 percent in February, but Chinese policymakers remain particularly sensitive to elevated commodity prices, given China’s huge imports of raw materials.

The survey showed housing inflation expectations fell, and also showed higher public acceptance of housing price rises.

Among residents surveyed, 67.7 percent of respondents believed housing prices were too high, down 5.2 percentage points from the previous quarter’s survey, it showed.

The first-quarter survey also showed that 17.7 percent of residents expected housing prices to rise, compared with 41.5 percent in the survey conducted in the first quarter of 2011.

The index measuring residents’ employment satisfaction was at 42.3 percent, up 2.5 percentage points from the previous quarter to the highest level since 2009, according to the survey.

A separate survey of bankers showed demand for bank loans weakened in the first quarter from the pervious quarter.

The index gauging loan demand was at 79.6 percent in the first quarter, down 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter and 5.6 percentage points from the same year-ago period.

Among the bankers surveyed, 21.3 percent of respondents expected looser monetary policy in the second quarter, compared with just 3.6 percent in the survey in the first quarter. (Reporting by Zhou Xin and Kevin Yao; Editing by Ken Wills and Daniel Magnowski)

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