LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Mortgage approvals in Britain
dropped last month to their lowest since June 2020, according to
central bank data on Monday that underlined recent signs of
slowing housing market activity after the end of a tax break on
Along with more robust figures for consumer lending - which
grew by its most since July 2020, when there was an easing of
initial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions - the figures offer a
mixed picture for the BoE as it considers a December rate rise.
The Bank of England said lenders approved 67,199 mortgages
in October, below all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists
and down from 71,851 in September.
Other surveys have pointed to a slowdown in the number of
homes coming to the market, something that has pushed house
prices to new record highs despite the withdrawal of a temporary
exemption from Stamp Duty Land Tax for property purchases.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at consultancy Pantheon
Macroeconomics, said he expected demand to pick up in the last
couple of months of this year, then slow in 2022.
"The downward pressure on households' incomes will build as
CPI inflation rises further and taxes increase in April.
Accordingly, we expect mortgage approvals to merely match their
2015-to-2019 average in the first half of next year," he said.
The BoE data also showed unsecured consumer lending rose by
706 million pounds ($941 million) after repayments, the largest
net increase since July 2020 and one driven mostly by credit
The figures chimed with stronger-than-expected retail sales
data for October, although the emergence of the Omicron variant
of COVID-19 has clouded the outlook for consumer spending.
Overall consumer borrowing grew at an annualized rate of
3.3% in the three months to the end of October, the same rate as
in August and the joint highest since the three months to the
end of February 2020.
The stock of credit card borrowing remains about 15 billion
pounds lower than its pre-pandemic level of around 72 billion
pounds, the BoE figures showed.
($1 = 0.7501 pounds)
(Reporting by Andy Bruce and David Milliken; Editing by Andrew