April 26, 2019 / 8:32 AM / 4 months ago

RPT-UK banks' mortgage approvals hit 9-month high in March - UK Finance

 (Repeats story with no changes to text)
    LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - British banks last month
approved the greatest number of mortgages since June 2018, a
tentative sign that the worst of the housing market's slowdown
ahead of Brexit may have passed, data showed on Friday.
    Seasonally-adjusted data from the UK Finance industry body
showed banks approved 39,980 mortgages in March, up 6 percent on
a year ago and compared with 39,207 in February.
    The survey added to some early signs that the housing market
may be picking up a little after slowing markedly last year.
    Earlier this month the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors's gauge of house prices picked up for the first time
since July, although it said the uncertainty around Brexit was
likely to keep weighing on the market.
    The United Kingdom was due to have left the EU on March 29,
though Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to get her
divorce deal approved by parliament. Now the new deadline is
Oct. 31, more than three years since the 2016 referendum.
    UK Finance said lending to consumers expanded by 4.1 percent
in March, the strongest growth rate since June and up from 3.5
percent in February.

 (Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by Alistair Smout)
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