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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Property market 'still strong'
Halifax branch
The UK's housing market is still demonstrating a surprising amount of strength according to HBOS, the country's largest mortgage lender.

The bank's chief executive James Crosby said there were signs that the market is not slowing as quickly as expected.

His comments came as HBOS unveiled a 24% rise in profits to 1.78bn for the first-half of the year.

Mr Crosby said the bank was "firing on all cylinders" and added that its retail banking operations had seen particularly strong growth.

London prices reviving?

HBOS had predicted that UK house prices would grow by 10% this year, compared with 2002's rate of 25%.

Recent surveys have shown the market to be cooling, with prices falling in some parts of London and the South East of England.

But Mr Crosby said their 10% forecast could turn out to be an underestimate.

"If anything, prices are likely to rise by slightly more than our forecast, and certainly by more (rather) than less," he said.

"There are signs of stabilisation and even growth in the London mass market."

Debt 'affordable'

Mr Crosby said the bank was on target to add one million new credit card and bank accounts this year.

He also said he thought unsecured lending was slowing in general, despite fears raised earlier this week that consumer borrowing was getting out of hand.

"I think that from the consumer's point of view, the fact of the matter is that although the sums are large they are very affordable."




SEE ALSO:
Housing market 'remains strong'
04 Jul 03  |  Business
Investors cheer HBOS profits
25 Feb 03  |  Business


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