LONDON, April 30 British mortgage approvals for
house purchase bounced back more strongly than expected in
March, in a further sign homebuyers are benefiting from the
central bank's flagship credit scheme.
Lending to businesses fell last month, but at a slower pace
than in February, Bank of England data showed on Tuesday.
The central bank has been hoping that its Funding for
Lending Scheme (FLS), opened in August and revamped last week,
will boost the flow of credit to households and businesses, thus
easing what it sees as a major drag on the economy.
Mortgage approvals numbered 53,504 in March, up from 51,947
in February and a thousand more than analysts had forecast.
Before the 2008 financial crisis, monthly mortgage approvals
ran at around 90,000, but the number of home sales has slumped
since then and is only slowly starting to recover.
Lending to non-financial businesses shrank for a second
straight month, by a net 0.6 billion pounds. Within that,
lending to smaller firms dropped by 0.1 billion pounds, erasing
the previous month's gain.
Last week the central bank and the finance ministry retooled
the FLS, giving banks greater incentives to lend to small and
medium-sized firms which complain they are starved of credit.
The BoE's preferred gauge of money supply, M4 excluding
intermediate other financial corporations, rose 0.3 percent,
taking the annual growth rate to 4.5 percent.