May 8, 2018 / 7:48 AM / 2 months ago

UK housing market cools unexpectedly in April: Halifax

LONDON (Reuters) - British house price growth unexpectedly cooled in April, mortgage lender Halifax said on Tuesday, adding to signs of weakness in the housing market and the consumer economy more broadly.

A couple view properties for sale in an estate agents window in London, Britain August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

British house prices were up 2.2 percent year-on-year in April after a 2.7 percent rise in March, undercutting all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a reading of 3.3 percent.

On the month, prices fell 3.1 percent after a 1.6 percent rise in March, again weaker than all forecasts and marking the biggest drop since September 2010.

“The Halifax index is by far the most volatile measure of house prices ... so it would be a mistake to sound the alarm over April’s huge fall in prices,” Samuel Tombs, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

Still, Tombs said weak consumer confidence and modest rises in mortgage interest rates suggested demand in the housing market would continue to weaken.

“A period of broadly flat house prices, therefore, remains the most likely outcome,” he said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Michael Holden and John Stonestreet

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