UPDATE 1-UK banks approve most mortgages since 2015 – UK Finance

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 (Adds detail from survey, economist reaction) LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - British banks approved the
highest number of mortgages in more than four years in December,
industry group UK Finance said on Monday, adding to signs of a
turnaround in the country's housing market since last month's
election. Mortgage approvals for house purchase hit 46,815 last month
on a seasonally adjusted basis, the most since August 2015,
according to UK Finance's data. The value of mortgage lending rose by the most since March
2016, shortly before voters decided to leave the European Union,
up by a net 3.773 billion pounds ($4.96 billion). "December's jump in mortgage approvals adds to a growing
amount of firmer data and survey evidence suggesting that the
housing market could well be changing up a gear after a
lacklustre 2019," Howard Archer, an economist with forecasters
EY ITEM Club, said. The Bank of England is discussing this week whether to cut
interest rates in response to weak economic data at the end of
2019, or put faith in early signs of a recovery since the
election. Earlier this month, the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors said Britain's housing market got a boost from Prime
Minister Boris Johnson's big election win, with agreed home
sales rising for the first time since May. But there were also signs of caution among households in
Monday's UK Finance data. Consumer credit grew by an annual 4.0%
in December, the joint weakest pace since April of last year,
and credit card lending was up by 2.4%, its second-weakest
performance since late 2014. ($1 = 0.7608 pounds) (Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken) 

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