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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 12:16 GMT
Consumer borrowing growth slows
Credit cards
Growth in borrowing on credit cards continues to slow
Borrowing by individuals on credit cards, bank loans and hire purchase agreements is growing at its slowest pace for nearly 12 years.

Figures from the Bank of England show that in January consumer credit was growing at an annual rate of just 8.7%.

The numbers put consumer credit growth at its slowest pace since June 1994.

But other Bank figures show the amount of money being borrowed for mortgages rose by 9.2bn in January, the biggest increase in almost two years.

The divergent trend means the overall rate at which people are borrowing more money, from all sources, has been steady at 10.3% since September last year.

The continued growth of personal borrowing has now pushed up the total stock of outstanding debt owed by UK consumers to 1.168 trillion.

Mortgages

The Bank of England's figures showed that 122,000 new mortgages were approved in January for people wanting to buy a home, a 49% rise over the same month a year ago.

New mortgage approvals are widely regarded as a good indicator of activity in the property market.

Till now, the number of approvals has been growing steadily as it recovers from a sudden slump in the second half of 2004.

But Kelvin Davidson, property economist at Capital Economics, pointed out that the number of approvals had not changed between December and January,

"Strong annual growth rates were always inevitable given that late 2004-early 2005 was the trough of mortgage demand," he said.

"More noteworthy was the fact that January was the first month in which mortgage approvals did not increase since November 2004."

On Tuesday, the Nationwide building society, one of the country's biggest mortgage lenders, reported that annual house price inflation dipped slightly in February to 3.7%.


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