Bank of England: Mortgage approvals fall for the first time in a year
The number of people taking out mortgages in the UK has fallen for the first time in a year, according to new figures from the Bank of England.
There were 70,309 mortgage approvals in February, a sharp fall on January, when 76,753 loans were approved.
The news surprised some economists - until now the number has increased every month since February 2013.
But the Bank said January's figure had been "erratically high," and the fall did not indicate a slow-down.
Analysts had expected a small dip in mortgage approvals in February, due to bad weather.
However they had not anticipated a drop of more than 6,000.Business loans
Nevertheless Howard Archer, chief UK economist with IHS Global Insight, pointed out that the number of approvals in February was still up by more than 33% on a year ago.
"The dip in approvals does little to dilute the view that the housing market is sustaining robust momentum," he said.
The Bank of England figures also showed that lending to businesses continued to fall.
UK businesses borrowed £447.5bn in February, down £0.8bn on January, and a fall of 3.7% over the last 12 months.
Since the beginning of this year, the government's Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) has been re-focused on business loans, in an attempt to stimulate lending.
Through FLS lenders are able to borrow money at cheap rates, providing they pass the money on to companies or small businesses.