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Creditfix LB 03-2017

Consumer Credit Growth Falling

Annual consumer credit growth fell in March to the lowest level in over two years it was confirmed this week.

The latest figures released by the Bank of England have shown that the annual growth rate in unsecured consumer lending dropped to 8.6 per cent, down from 9.4 per cent in February, and the slowest rate of growth since November 2015.

It is expected now that the Bank of England will hold back from raising interest rates next week, a move that had been expected by financial experts.

Annual credit card borrowing grew by just 8.8 per cent in March, down from 9.5 per cent in February, while the growth in loan advances slowed from 9.4 per cent to 8.4 per cent over the same period.

On a three-month basis, credit card borrowing slowed from 10.8 per cent to 8.8 per cent between February and March, while loan advances dropped from 8.3 per cent growth to 5.1 per cent.

Despite the slowdown in consumer credit growth, the seasonally adjusted amount of consumer credit lending outstanding was at its highest level ever at ?209.1 billion, exceeding the previous quarterly peak of ?208.1 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

The figures from the Bank of England also confirmed that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase fell to 62,914 from 63,781 in February, slightly below economists’ forecasts of a drop to 63,000 in a Reuters poll.

Figures last week from industry group UK Finance had already showed that British banks in March approved the second-lowest number of mortgages since early 2015.

The Bank of England raised interest rates for the first time since 2007 in November. But expectations of a second interest rate hike as soon as next week were dashed after the recent weak economic data and a suggestion by Governor Mark Carney that the Bank of England might wait until later in the year.

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