March 1, 2017 / 7:18 AM / 6 months ago

UK house price rises accelerate in February - Nationwide

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - British house price rises unexpectedly picked up speed in February, recovering from the weakest month for more than a year in January, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Wednesday.

Nationwide said house prices rose by a monthly 0.6 percent in February, compared with 0.2 percent in January.

In annual terms, prices were 4.5 percent higher, a stronger rise than January's 4.3 percent which was the weakest increase since November 2015.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected house prices to rise by 0.2 percent in February from January, and for annual growth to slow to 4.0 percent.

Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said Britain's economy was likely to slow this year as the country prepares to leave the European Union and inflation eats into consumers' spending power.

"Nevertheless, in our view a small rise in house prices of around 2 percent is more likely than a decline over the course of 2017, since low borrowing costs and the dearth of homes on the market will continue to support prices," he said. (Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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