UK Mortgage Approvals, House Prices Point to Subdued Market

By Jason Douglas and Wiktor SzaryFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

The number of new mortgage approvals rose marginally in the U.K. in November, the latest sign of subdued activity in the housing market.

The Bank of England said Thursday that lenders approved 65,139 home loans in November, up from 64,887 a month earlier, but still below the 66,562 approved on average over the previous six months.

Continue Reading Below

The figures came alongside data from lender Nationwide Building Society that showed house prices in the U.K. rose a modest 2.6% on year in the final month of 2017, markedly slower than the 4.5% growth notched up a year earlier.

Britain's housing market has been losing steam thanks to a combination of high prices and diminishing consumer confidence. Household budgets were squeezed in 2017 by a surge in inflation triggered by a steep fall in the pound after 2016's vote to leave the European Union.

Forecasters including the International Monetary Fund and the BOE expect the wider U.K. economy to slow in 2018 as uncertainty over the country's future ties to the EU, and poor productivity growth, weigh on activity.

BOE data showed consumers borrowed 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion), net of repayments, in November in personal loans and on their credit cards.

Growth in consumer credit slowed to 9.1% on the year, the slowest annual rate of growth since late 2015. The slowdown may start to ease concerns that households have been borrowing too much.

Write to Jason Douglas at Jason.Douglas@wsj.com and Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2018 04:50 ET (09:50 GMT)