U.K. Mortgage Approvals Hit Highest Level in Nine Months

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. mortgage lending reached a nine-month high in March, a possible sign that stability is returning to the housing market.

The number of home-loan approvals climbed to 39,980, almost 6 percent higher than a year earlier and the most since June 2018, lobby group UK Finance said on Friday.

U.K. Mortgage Approvals Hit Highest Level in Nine Months

The pickup came as a surprise to economists, who had expected to see a further slowdown last month. The housing market has been hit by Brexit uncertainty, particularly in London, and mortgage approvals remain well below the levels posted two years ago.

Annual growth in consumer credit accelerated to 4.1 percent, the highest since June last year, suggesting strong retail sales during the month was in part financed with unsecured debt.

The increase is inflated by a weak performance in March 2018, when Britain was hit by snow and freezing temperatures. However, consumers, buoyed by record employment and rising real incomes, have been relatively resilient to the crisis over Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The UK Finance report covers seven High Street banks representing around 60 percent of total mortgage lending, data on which are due to be published by the Bank of England on May 1.

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