House prices rise 2.2 percent in March - Halifax

LONDON Wed Apr 4, 2012 8:25am BST

A man walks past property for sale and rent in Timperley, northern England, November 1, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble

A man walks past property for sale and rent in Timperley, northern England, November 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

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LONDON (Reuters) - House prices rose 2.2 percent in March, confounding forecasts for a 0.3 percent dip, data from mortgage lender Halifax showed on Wednesday.

House prices nudged down 0.6 percent in the three months to March compared with a year ago - the smallest fall on this measure since October 2010. That took the average price of a home to 163,803 pounds.

Once a bedrock of consumer wealth, Britain's property market has faltered since the start of the financial crisis.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said the underlying trend indicated broad stability in house prices.

"The more volatile monthly figures continue to fluctuate as a result of the historically low level of sales volumes," he said.

"We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening."

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova)

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