UK house prices bounce unexpectedly in February: Halifax

Residential housing in south London
A person jogs past a row of residential housing in south London, Britain, August 6, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - British house prices jumped unexpectedly in February, potentially reflecting improvements in consumer confidence and the mortgage market, lender Halifax said on Tuesday, but the overall trend remained downwards.

House prices rose 1.1% month-on-month, following a 0.2% rise in January, Halifax said.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a 0.3% drop on the month.

Most other gauges of the housing market are yet to show a similar improvement after a recent slide in house prices from highs hit following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week another lender, Nationwide, said house prices dropped by the most in more than 10 years during February.

Mortgage approvals and other housing market activity indicators have hit multi-year lows in the last couple of months, in part reflecting mortgage market ructions linked to the short-lived premiership of Liz Truss.

Halifax struck a cautious tone about the outlook.

"Recent reductions in mortgage rates, improving consumer confidence, and a continuing resilience in the labour market are arguably helping to stabilise prices following the falls seen in November and December," said Kim Kinnaird, director of mortgages at Halifax.

"Still, with the cost of a home down on a quarterly basis, the underlying activity continues to indicate a general downward trend."

House prices were 2.1% higher than a year ago, Halifax said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle

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