UK house price growth cools again in January - Halifax

FILE PHOTO - Property sale signs are seen outside of a group of newly built houses in west London, Britain, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British annual house price growth resumed its slowing trend in January after a short-lived pickup in December, mortgage lender Halifax said on Thursday, adding to other signs of a tepid housing market ahead of Brexit.

House prices rose 0.8 percent year-on-year in the three months to January, after a 1.3 percent increase in the three months to December. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to 1.5 percent.

In January alone, house prices fell 2.9 percent, a sharper drop than anyone forecast in the poll and more than reversing a 2.5 percent increase in December.

“The January Halifax data fans suspicion that heightened consumer concerns amid increased Brexit and economic uncertainties are currently affecting the housing market,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club consultancy.

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union in just 50 days, yet London and Brussels are arguing over whether the deal clinched in November can be changed, raising the possibility of a delay to Brexit, a last-minute deal or a no-deal exit.

Other data also point to a slowdown in the housing market. Bank of England data last week showed lenders in December approved the fewest mortgages since April.

The BoE announces its interest rate decision for February at 1200 GMT. It looks set to trim its forecasts for Britain’s sluggish growth, reflecting the approach of a still uncertain Brexit and a slowdown in many of the world’s big economies.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Kate Holton and Janet Lawrence