UK mortgage approvals hit six-year high

Data released by the Bank of England show that the number of mortgages approved in November rose to 70,758 - the largest number in almost six years, although still far lower than figures pre-recession.

Expectations were for 69,000, and the number of approvals beat October's 67,701, providing more evidence of a rapidly growing housing market.

When it came to consumer credit, not so many people borrowed as expected in November 2013. The headline figure rose from 0.46bn to £0.63bn, but forecasts had been for 0.7bn.

Net lending to individuals fell in November to £1.5bn. In October, it stood at £1.7bn and expectations were for an increase to £2bn.

Capital Economics says that the figures are indicative of only a gradual recovery in bank lending over the coming year:

While new buyer enquires at estate agents have reportedly continued to rise, anecdotal evidence suggests that many applicants are still failing banks’ strict affordability tests.

What’s more, mortgage rates could rise soon in response to recent increase in market interest rates and the Bank of England’s decision at the end of November to remove the incentives that the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) provides to expand mortgage lending.

Meanwhile, firms’ large cash stockpiles may mean that their appetite for external funds remains depressed.

So all in all, lending seems unlikely to pick up in 2014 to levels that would come close to resembling another credit boom.

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