The amount of land sold at government auctions in 60 major mainland cities plunged 53% last month from a year ago as cash-hungry developers became more cautious and put the brakes on acquisitions.

With most developers missing sales targets amid the market slump and tighter control on lending, market watchers believe state land auctions this year will continue to generate lacklustre buying interest.

Local governments in those major cities sold 254 sites last month compared with 538 a year ago, according to data monitored by Soufun's China Index Research Institute.

The tepid response to the auctions and speculation the property sector might miss out on a government stimulus package put property stocks under selling pressure yesterday.

South China Morning Post