London's West End has seen office occupancy costs fall sharply in the last six months but remains the world's priciest office market. The average occupancy cost in the West End was $249 per square foot for the year ending Sept. 30, a 17% decline from $300 per square foot in the CBRE's previous survey of the year ending March 30, according to commercial real estate services company CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. The change is likely due to the dollar's appreciation against the British pound as well as the softening of the property market.

Moscow was close behind the West End in the latest installment of CBRE's semiannual survey of global office markets, released yesterday. Office space in that city averaged about $234, little changed from six months before. The office market in Midtown Manhattan, the most expensive in the United States, seems to be inching down slowly—to an average of $98 per square foot in the latest survey from $103 in the previous one. Midtown is now the 15th-most expensive market in the world, between Dublin, Ireland, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

CBRE says that occupancy costs increased 8% in the 172 markets monitored over the 12 months ending Sept. 30. "Clearly the rate of change is generally slowing, and in some markets the pricing direction is down," Raymond Torto, CBRE's global chief economist, said in yesterday's press release.

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Centre Point in London

The fastest rise in prices in the last year occurred in the Asia Pacific region, where costs in the top markets grew an average of 26%. Ho Chi Minh City saw the most growth in the region with costs increasing 51% to an average of $93 per square foot. In the U.S., the biggest rise in prices happened in Boston's central business district, where costs increased 26%.