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UK News

House Prices Up? Mortgage Approvals Up? Interest Rates Going Up?

Mortgage activity has picked up this year and the lack of homes for sale is likely to push up house prices, reports have suggested. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts house prices will rise 5.6% this year, higher than its previous forecast of 4.7%. A lack of properties being put on the market was pushing up prices, it said.

House purchase mortgage approvals in September fell to 44,489, down from 46,567 in August, but still showed a 14% rise from the same time a year ago, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

The Bank of England governor is still urging over-indebted households and mortgage borrowers to prepare for an increase. Mark Carney, BoE governor, recently said that although an interest-rate increase was a “possibility not a certainty”, it was best “to let the British people know so they can prepare.”

Unemployment Down, UK Economy Up

Latest figures show UK unemployment falling to a 7 year low of 5.4% – but that was before the job losses in the steel industry. The UK steel industry reported the loss of thousands of jobs. The month ended with confirmation that the UK economy had grown by 0.5% in the third quarter of the year. That was down from 0.7% in the previous quarter but, as many commentators pointed out, it wasn’t a bad performance in the context of the wider global economy. The growth was generated mainly by the service sector, as manufacturing and construction continued to slip back.

UK inflation once again turned negative, with the figures for September confirming it at -0.1%. The FTSE-100 index of leading shares rose by 5% in October to end the month at 6,361 – although that is still 3% below the level at which it started the year.

HMRC Customer Service - Bad!

A group of MPs has said that the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is "still failing UK taxpayers" by only answering half the phone calls to its customer care centre, and failing to carry out enough prosecutions! Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said customer service was so bad that it could be affecting tax collection. HMRC said it had now recruited 3,000 more staff to help.

World Economic Highlights & Lowlights

Several of the World’s stock markets showed some signs of recovery in October with Germany and China indicating gains of 12% and 11%. However, the concerns about the slowdown in China continue, in the USA economic activity showed a downturn in the third quarter of the year, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised forecasts for global growth and issued warnings on future stability.

Europe

VW reported its first quarterly loss for 15 years. After setting aside €6.7bn to cover the inevitable compensation payments, VW reported a quarterly loss of €2.52bn for the third quarter of 2015. The European Investment Bank are apparently considering recalling loans made to the company, it has been reported. 

Deutsche Bank was also suffering as it reported a third quarter loss of €6bn: it now plans to lose 15,000 jobs around the world.

Figures for August indicated that German exports fell by their largest amount since the height of the global financial crisis in 2009. Germany still recorded a healthy trade surplus for the month. None of these worries, though, were reflected on the stock market, with the German DAX index bounding up 12% in October to close at 10,850. Similarly in France, the market there was up 10% to 4,898. Even the Greek stock market moved in the right direction, enjoying a 7% rise in the month.

USA

In the US, the Federal Reserve Bank again left interest rates at their record low levels of 0% to 0.25%. Third quarter showed the US economy slowing sharply. Growth for Q3 was down to 1.5%, compared to 3.9% for the second quarter. However, the Dow Jones index was up 8% in the month to close October at 17,664.

China

Figures for the third quarter confirmed growth in the Chinese economy had “slowed” to 6.9%. The Bank of China reacted by cutting its key interest rate to 4.35%, a move which sent European stock markets upwards.

Emerging Markets

Major emerging markets saw their stock markets rise in October. Russia indicated a 4% rise to 1,712 whilst both the Brazilian and Indian markets rose by 2%, to 45,869 and 26,657 respectively.