(Bloomberg) — China’s home sales slump has dragged on into March, signaling that a long-awaited turnaround for the sector is not yet in sight.

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The value of new home sales by the top 100 real estate companies fell about 46% from a year earlier to 358 billion yuan ($49.6 billion), after a 60% drop in February, according to preliminary data from China Real Estate Information Corp.

China’s ongoing real estate sales drought has weighed on many of the country’s biggest builders, eroding the balance sheets of the biggest state-owned banks as their bad loans grow. Beijing has ordered banks to help pump up the domestic economy and support debt-laden developers.

Country Garden Holdings Co., once a housing powerhouse, made a surprise announcement late Thursday that it will miss a deadline for reporting annual results. China Vanke Co., once the largest listed developer, said net profit fell 46% last year, a steeper decline than analysts expected.

March is traditionally a fast period for house sales, which are up 93% on February, but sales in the third and fourth quarters of last year were still weaker than the monthly average, according to the CRIC.

The agency warned that the housing market is unlikely to warm up anytime soon, leaving developers’ contract sales under pressure. The CRIC predicts that April sales will remain unchanged or increase slightly from March.

An index that tracks the shares of major mainland developers rose as much as 1.6% on Monday morning. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed for a public holiday.

Weakness in the property market has prompted Fitch Ratings to downgrade the credit ratings of some builders into junk territory, including Vanke and Longfor Group Holdings Ltd.

Fitch Ratings also lowered its housing market forecasts on Thursday and now expects a 5% to 10% decline in new home sales this year amid weaker demand for home purchases. The rating agency previously estimated a decline of 0% to 5%.

(Updates with market reaction in seventh paragraph.)

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