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UK mortgage approvals rise on year for first time since September 2017 - UK Finance

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By Reuters
UK mortgage approvals rise on year for first time since September 2017 - UK Finance
FILE PHOTO: Property sale signs are seen outside of a group of newly built houses in west London, Britain, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville   -   Copyright  TOBY MELVILLE(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – A decline in the number of mortgages approved by British high-street banks levelled off last month, with the first year-on-year rise since September 2017, figures from industry group UK Finance showed on Friday.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since the country voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, and other surveys this month have showed consumer and business anxiety ahead of Britain’s planned departure date of March 29 next year.

Friday’s data showed British banks approved 39,403 mortgages for house purchase in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from 39,640 in October but up by 0.2 percent from November 2017 — the first annual rise in 14 months.

“Overall mortgage borrowing across the residential property market remains stable,” UK Finance’s managing director for personal finance, Eric Leenders, said.

Most economists expect house prices to be flat or marginally higher next year, as weakness in London and surrounding areas weighs on faster price growth in other parts of Britain.

Credit card lending also picked up slightly, though UK Finance said this mostly reflected a shift in payment means rather than higher borrowing, with credit cards offering better consumer protection for purchases such as holidays.

Net lending to non-financial businesses fell by the most since May, dropping by 656 million pounds in November.

The Bank of England will publish more comprehensive lending data on Jan. 4.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Michael Holden)