January 8, 2019 / 8:47 AM / 6 months ago

UK house prices rise, broad picture still weak - Halifax

FILE PHOTO: Estate agent's signs hang from houses in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham, Britain September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices rose more than expected in December but the property market remains subdued ahead of Brexit, mortgage lender Halifax said on Tuesday.

House prices rose 2.2 percent, more than reversing a 1.2 percent fall in November and outstripping all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a 0.2 percent increase.

On an annual basis, prices rose 1.3 percent in the three months to December, again topping all forecasts that pointed to a 0.4 percent rise.

Still, with other surveys and official data mostly showing a slowing housing market, Halifax cautioned against reading too much into the strength of a single month’s figures.

“In 2019, we’re expecting continued stability in house prices with between 2 percent and 4 percent price inflation. This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison,” Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said.

“However, this expectation will clearly be dependent on the Brexit outcome, with risks to both sides of our forecast.”

Britain’s departure from the European Union, scheduled for March 29, remains unclear as lawmakers are expected next week to vote down the divorce deal that May struck with the EU in November.

Business chiefs and investors fear leaving the EU without a deal would slow trade, spook financial markets and dislocate supply chains for the world’s fifth-largest economy.

For graphic on UK house prices perk up in December, click tmsnrt.rs/2GYAhXm

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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