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U.K. Mortgage Approvals At 6-year High

Mortgage approvals in the U.K. grew less than forecast in December, but the figure was the highest in six years, data released by the Bank of England showed on Thursday.

The number of approvals for house purchase loans secure on dwellings rose to 71,638 in December from an upwardly revised 70,820 in November. Economists had expected the figure to climb to 72,900 from November's original 70,758.

The latest figure is the highest since January 2008, when mortgage approvals were 71,999.

The lending secured on dwellings grew by GBP 1.7 billion, while economists had forecast an increase of GBP 1.2 billion.

Consumer credit rose by GBP 0.6 billion, while economists were looking for a gain of GBP 0.7 billion.

M4 lending shrunk 1.4 percent on a monthly basis, following a 0.1 percent gain in November. Year-on-year, M4 grew 0.2 percent after a 2.7 percent surge in the previous month.

"The good news is that the rise in overall credit suggests that the banking sector continues to make gradual progress in returning to normality," Capital Economics U.K. economist Martin Beck said.

"But the recovery in lending continues to display an even more marked lack of balance than the economic recovery as a whole."

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