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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 10:49 GMT
New mortgages near to 10-year low
New housing development
Five rate rises are dampening consumer spending
The number of mortgages approved in the UK has fallen to the lowest level for nearly a decade, official figures show.

New loans in November fell to 77,000, from 85,000 in October, the lowest rate since September 1995, the Bank of England said.

Mortgage lending rose by 6.46bn ($12.23bn) in November, from 6.93bn, the lowest growth since June 2002.

Experts believe five interest rate rises since November 2003 are cutting borrowers' appetite for debt.

Interest rate peak?

Growth in unsecured lending, such as personal loans and credit cards, also slowed last month.

Unsecured lending rose by 1.38bn in November, compared to 1.51bn in the previous month.

The latest official data is likely to confirm analysts' expectations that the bank will leave rates on hold at 4.75% for some time.

"It looks like demand in the housing market has weakened and it's going to continue weakening," said George Buckley, economist at Deutsche Bank.

"We don't think the Bank of England will raise rates in the near term and they probably should cut rates in the second half of this year."


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