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UK mortgage approvals rise for 1st time in 4 months

Mortgage approvals by major U.K. banks rose for the first time in four months in January after falling to their lowest level in more than four years in December 2017.

Approvals for house purchases increased to 40,117 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis from 36,085 in December 2017, data from UK Finance showed. Remortgaging approvals edged up to 28,924 from 28,288 in the previous month.

Gross mortgage lending by high street banks totaled £13.82 billion in January, compared to £12.59 billion in December 2017.

However, UK Finance said the underlying economic growth is expected to be sluggish in the long term even though consumer confidence increased in January and wage growth improved. Households' real earnings are well below the inflation rate and their savings are declining due to an increase in debt-servicing costs.

"As the economic effects of tightening monetary policy will take some time to validate, inflation is expected to remain relatively elevated, underpinning subdued consumer spending and a modest outlook for growth," according to UK Finance.