Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed that average property prices in 70 Chinese cities fell for the fifth consecutive month in February, The Wall Street Journal reported. Prices of new homes fell month-on-month in 45 of the 70 surveyed cities as developers offered discounts to offset sluggish sales. Property prices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other major cities were slightly lower in February than in January. Prices rose in four of the 70 cities, compared with none in January. On an annual basis, 27 cities saw price decreases in February. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that real estate prices remain far too expensive and the government should not relax property controls, even though home-buying sentiment has cooled compared with the fourth quarter of 2011. Mark Budden, head of the China branch of consultancy EC Harris, said he expects prices to continue falling and the government to maintain restrictions for the foreseeable future.