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UK mortgage approvals hit nine-month low in February

LONDON: British mortgage approvals fell to their lowest level in nine months in February, Bank of England figures showed on March 29, in another sign that the recovery in the housing market is stalling.

The Bank of England said mortgage approvals numbered 47,094 in February, down from from 48,099 in January and well below the figure of almost 60,000 reached in November when people were rushing to take advantage of a temporary reduction in property purchase tax. Analysts had forecast a reading of 48,000.

However total lending to households posted its strongest rise since July 2008, up £2.114 billion (RM10.37 billion) on the month, above analyst forecasts and an increase from the £1.885 billion gain in January.

Nonetheless, this was still around a fifth of the typical monthly rise seen in the boom years before the credit crunch.

Within total borrowing, consumer credit rose by a greater-than-expected £528 million, the strongest rise November 2008, and mortgage lending rose by £1.586 billion, its biggest gain since December 2008.

The BoE's preferred gauge of money supply growth, M4 excluding intermediate other financial corporations returned to positive territory, growing by 0.3% on the month, though on a three-month annualised basis it was down by 1%. -- Reuters
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