U.K. Lending Slows as Brexit Uncertainty Hangs Over Outlook

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. lenders approved the fewest home loans in eight months in December and demand for unsecured debt remained subdued, Bank of England figures published Wednesday show.

The slowdown reflects fears that Britain risks leaving the European Union without a deal, a scenario that could rock the property market and the economy. Consumer credit grew at its slowest annual pace in four years.

U.K. Lending Slows as Brexit Uncertainty Hangs Over Outlook

Key Insights

  • The number of mortgage approvals fell to 63,793 from 63,952 in November. Actual mortgage lending rose by 4.1 billion pounds ($5.3 billion).
  • Consumer credit rose 6.6 percent from a year earlier, the weakest pace since December 2014 and down from growth rates above 10 percent in 2017.
  • Net unsecured lending of 687 million pounds last month was the lowest since March and below 1 billion pounds for a fourth month running. The average in the first eight months of 2018 was about 1.3 billion pounds.
  • Concern about the economic outlook and tighter credit-scoring criteria by lenders are curbing the buildup of debt. Borrowing on credit cards rose just 92 million pounds, the lowest figure since September 2014. Other loans rose by 596 million pounds.
  • Lending to non-financial business rose 165 million pounds, with borrowing by small firms offsetting repayments by larger ones.
  • Non-resident investors bought a net 11.96 billion pounds of U.K. government bonds following purchases of 2.42 billion pounds in November.

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  • A RICS survey Jan. 17 showed the worst housing-market outlook for two decades and Nationwide Building Society is forecast to say Thursday that house prices are stagnating for the first time in six years with values no higher this month than they were a year earlier.
  • No end to the uncertainty hanging over the economy is in sight, as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to ask the EU to renegotiate the most contentious part of her Brexit deal after a series of votes in the U.K. Parliament last night. The EU has ruled out reopening the agreement, raising the threat of a chaotic departure on March 29.
  • Consumer confidence slipped to a near six-year low this month, according to YouGov, and a survey for Citi published Wednesday found uncertainty is at an historic high.

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