May 25, 2017 / 8:52 AM / 8 months ago

UK mortgage approvals slip in April, consumer borrowing speeds up - BBA

LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - British banks approved the fewest mortgages in five months in April and the value of home loans grew at the slowest pace since August, industry figures showed, adding to signs of a slowdown in the housing market.

The figures from the British Banking Association also showed growth in consumer borrowing picked up a bit of pace last month as shoppers spent more on food over the Easter holidays.

Britain’s economy grew strongly last year, but rising inflation since the Brexit vote in June 2016 has started to weaken consumer demand and house prices are rising more slowly.

Banks approved 40,750 mortgages for house purchase last month, down marginally from March and roughly the same number as April last year.

Consumer lending grew by 6.4 percent, edging up from growth of 6.2 percent in March which had been the weakest increase in nearly a year.

“As the spring sunshine picked up in April, so did consumer spending,” Eric Leenders, the BBA’s managing director for retail banking, said.

“Annual growth in consumer borrowing from the main high street banks grew due to increased customer use of credit cards,” he said. “This was also reflected by an uplift in retail sales volumes, particularly among food retailers over the Easter period.”

The BBA data cover Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, TSB and Virgin Money, but not building societies, which account for a big chunk of mortgage lending.

More comprehensive data from the Bank of England will be released on May 31.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Kate Holton

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