BEIJING — Loans to China’s property sector continued to grow at a slower pace in the first quarter as the country maintains strict home-purchase rules, central bank data has shown.

China’s outstanding property loans were up 13.9 percent from a year earlier at 46.16 trillion yuan (about $6.59 trillion) as of the end of March, according to a report from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

The growth rate was 0.9 percentage points lower than that at the end of last year.

Outstanding individual mortgage lending grew 15.9 percent year on year to 31.15 trillion yuan by the end of the first quarter, down 0.8 percentage points from the end of December.

The proportion of property loans continued to fall, while lending to small- and micro-sized enterprises and advanced manufacturing maintained steady growth, said Zou Lan, an official with the PBOC.

China’s policymakers have vowed to ensure the stable and healthy development of the property market, repeatedly emphasizing that homes are for living in, not for speculative investment.

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