LONDON (Reuters) - British mortgage approvals declined in September for the first time in four months, but mortgage lending and consumer credit grew at the fastest rate in years, Bank of England data showed on Thursday.
Mortgage approvals for house purchases numbered 68,874 in September, down from a recent of 70,664 in August. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 72,450 mortgage approvals were made last month.
Reflecting strong past mortgage approvals and buoyant consumer morale, overall lending grew at the fastest rate since December 2008, powered by robust growth in both mortgage lending and consumer credit.
Mortgage lending rose 3.595 billion pounds on the month, the biggest net increase since April 2008, and amounting to annual growth of 2.2 percent — the biggest rise since January 2009.
Consumer credit also beat expectations on the month, and chalked up annual growth of 8.2 percent, the fastest increase since February 2006.
British economic growth slowed more than expected in the three months to September, and economists are unsure about the extent to which strong consumer demand will offset a weakening global outlook.
A survey from mortgage lender Nationwide on Thursday showed house price growth rose 0.6 percent on the month, slightly more than expected.
Most housing market data has pointed to renewed momentum in house prices, after a hiatus in the latter part of 2014 due to tighter mortgage regulation.
Last month the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee said it expected house price inflation to pick up in the coming months and would be closely monitoring Britain’s so-called buy-to-let market, dominated by small landlords.
Reporting by Andy Bruce and David Milliken