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Creditfix LB 03-2017

UK Consumer Credit Still Growing

Consumer credit borrowing in the UK is still growing at a pace, and the pace actually accelerated during May.

The latest figures released by the Bank of England showed net unsecured borrowing grew by ?1.7 billion during May of this year.

The May figure represents the highest increase since November 2016 and is well above the six-month average of ?1.5 billion.

A slowdown in growth to ?1.4 billion had been expected by economists, but the increase now translates into an annual growth pace of 10.3 per cent.

The growth in credit card borrowing did reduce from ?0.6 billion in April to ?0.4 billion in May. However, the overall unsecured borrowing rate was dragged up by the increase in other loans and advances which accelerated from ?0.9 billion to ?1.3 billion.

The Bank of England has frequently voiced concerns that the rapid pace of growth in unsecured lending is unsustainable long-term. Just a few days earlier it said in its six-monthly financial stability report that the previously announced analysis of how the banking sector would cope with big losses in the consumer credit sector would be brought forward.

The Bank of England also ordered banks to begin rebuilding buffers of capital, which it had allowed them to run down to keep credit flowing after the Brexit vote last June.

Debate has also intensified within the Bank of England Monetary committee over whether to begin increasing interest rates to dampen down unsecured borrowing.

Mortgage approvals remained relatively steady at 65,202 showing just a slight increase from 65,051 the previous month. The May figure is lower than the average over the previous six-month period.

Although the mortgage market is considerably larger than the unsecured loan market, there is less concern as mortgage borrowers are more likely to keep up with repayments and less likely to default as the borrowing is secured. Therefore, the mortgage market is seen to be far more stable.

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