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     By David Robinson
     LONDON (MNI) - Mortgage approvals, a reliable indicator of future 
housing market activity, declined in August while the average interest 
rates on new loans edged higher, Bank of England data showed. 
     The data were indicative of a housing market that is drifting 
sideways rather than showing, as yet, any clear downtrend. 
     The following are key points from the BOE Money and Credit data 
     -The average interest rates paid by borrowers on new mortgages rose 
to 2.04% from 2.03% in July and June's 2.02%, which was the lowest level 
since January 2018. 
     Market expectations have shown a rising likelihood of the next move 
in Bank Rate being up, rather than down, and any further rise in 
borrowing rates is more likely to reflect widening margins rather than 
increasing funding costs for lenders.   
     -The average interest rate on the stock of mortgages edged up to  
2.42% in August from 2.41% in July and matching the figure for May and 
June. The data show point to next to no change in household mortgage 
costs in recent months. 
     -The number of mortgage approvals fell to 65,545 in August from 
67,011 in July. It was last lower in March, when it stood at 62,617. 
     There is little clear trend in the mortgage data, with the current 
range fairly tight in a series which had a low of 26,353 in November 
2008 and a high of 132,404 in December 2003. 
     -Net secured lending also fell, to stg3.854 billion in August, down 
from stg4.521 billion in July but up from June's stg3.796 billion. 
     Unsecured borrowing dipped in August to stg0.901 billion compared 
stg1.007 billion in July. 
 -London newsroom: e-mail: