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     By David Robinson and Irene Prihoda
     LONDON (MNI) - Bank of England money and credit data showed that 
the average interest rates being paid by borrowers on a range of 
mortgages were at record lows in February, but housing market activity 
looks set to soften.
     The following are key points from the BOE data sets:
     -The number of mortgage approvals, a reliable indicator of future 
house purchases, fell to 64,337 in February from 66,696 in January, just 
above the 64,112 recorded in December.
     The approvals figure was a shade below the previous six month 
average of 65,50. Other housing market surveys have also painted a 
picture of subdued demand.
    -The average interest rate on the stock fixed 3,4 and 5 year 
mortgages hit their series lows in February. The average interest rate 
on the stock of all fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.23%, the 
joint lowest on record.
     Despite the Bank of England having raised its policy rate from its 
trough, the actual interest rates being paid by mortgagees have 
declined, reflecting a mix of squeezed net interest margins and flatter 
money market curves.
    -Unsecured borrowing was little changed in February 1,145 compared 
to January. The yearly growth rate of consumer credit (Feb 6.3%) 
continued to show a downward trend which has been in place since 
November 2016 where it peaked at 10.9%. 
     As consumer confidence remains weak and as this data show borrowing 
decelerating then consumption grwoth is likely to be subdued.  
 -London newsroom: e-mail: