UK mortgage approvals rise to highest since February 2016

LONDON: British lenders approved the highest number of mortgages for house purchase in nearly four years in January, Bank of England figures showed on Monday, confirming a pick-up in consumer demand at the start of 2020.
The BoE said lenders signed off on 70,888 mortgages in January, up from 67,930 in December and the greatest number since February 2016, before the impending referendum on Brexit took steam out of the housing market in most of the country.
The BoE data showed the annual growth rate in unsecured consumer lending held steady at 6.1 per cent in January. Consumer confidence has rebounded to an 18-month high and businesses are also more optimistic since December’s election returned Prime Minister Boris Johnson to office with a large majority.
But in the past week financial market sentiment has dived with share prices falling by the most since 2008, on fears that China’s coronavirus will spread worldwide, leading to widespread economic disruption. — Reuters