April 26, 2018 / 8:49 AM / a year ago

UK mortgage approvals fall 10 pct y/y in March - UK Finance

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - British banks approved fewer mortgages for home-buyers last month than they did a year ago while credit card lending growth held broadly steady, industry figures showed on Thursday.

Banks approved 37,567 mortgages for house purchase last month, down from 38,035 in February and 10 percent less than in March 2017, trade association UK Finance said.

“There was a rising trend in mortgage approvals for the first three months of 2018 although the number is slightly lower than the same period in 2017,” UK Finance’s managing director for personal finance, Eric Leenders, said.

Seasonally adjusted net credit card lending increased by just 10 million pounds ($13.9 million) on the month - the smallest rise since April 2016 - though the annual growth rate was little changed at 5.8 percent.

Mortgage lending was 2.7 percent higher.

Net lending to businesses was its highest in a year at 3.241 billion pounds.

Financial investors are unsure if the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month - something they had previously thought was highly likely - after Governor Mark Carney highlighted recent “mixed” economic data.

Thursday’s UK Finance data cover major British banks, but do not include building societies, which account for a big chunk of mortgage lending.

The Bank of England releases industry-wide data on May 1. ($1 = 0.7186 pounds) (Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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