Mortgage approvals rise but consumers remain cautious

UK MORTGAGE approvals rose to their highest level in June since March 2008 as the housing market shows signs of improvement and credit conditions are easing, according to data from the British Bankers&rsquo; Association (BBA) released yesterday.<br /><br />Figures from the BBA showed that mortgage approvals climbed to 35,235 in June from 31,919 in May.<br /><br />David Dooks, the BBA&rsquo;s statistics director, said: &ldquo;Numbers of new home loans approved by the high street banks are recovering from the very low level last November and so far this year gross mortgage lending has topped &pound;50bn.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, this is still weak by historical standards. David Page, economist at Investec, said: &ldquo;This level of mortgage approvals is still weak. The 1990s downturn saw approvals bottoming at 62,600. The relatively low current numbers suggest ongoing difficulties with mortgage availability as well as subdued demand.&rdquo;<br /><br />Net mortgage lending has risen to &pound;2.6bn in June compared to &pound;2.4bn in May. Consumer credit remained depressed at -&pound;0.1bn, while personal deposit inflows rose sharply in June to &pound;3.2bn, indicating that consumers are very wary of taking on more debt.