Financial News

  • 27 April 2014, 12:37

Consumers Warm To More Loans And Overdrafts

Consumers are returning to the habit of using credit to fund their spending, according to a banking body.

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said personal loans and overdrafts are rising for the first time in five years.

It called it a "clear" sign of improving consumer confidence.

The BBA's report comes as official data revealed an above-expected rise in retail spending last month.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes were up 0.1% in March compared to February.

The rise surprised City analysts who had predicted a 0.4% fall last month.

Clothing and retail saw a month-on-month climb of 3.1% - the best result for three years - while non-food shops saw a spike of 9.6% compared to the same period last year.

However, food retailers saw their worst month-on-month decline for a year, with March revenues down 2.3%.

The BBA said March overdrafts were up 0.5% on an annual rate, in the first rise since January 2009.

But it added that the number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers dropped to a four-month low, fuelling hints of market cooling ahead of new industry-wide mortgage risk checks.

The BBA said 45,933 approvals totalling 7.5bn - an average of 163,281 each - were made in March.

Home mortgage approvals have sunk amid a flurry of price rises particularly in the South East.

Fewer than 50,000 mortgages were approved in January.

Government's schemes such as Help to Buy have helped those with low deposit levels to gain mortgages, and the BBA said house purchase approvals were 43% higher in March compared to the same month last year.

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