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More mortgages, but more bankruptcies - mixed messages on economy

Two key economic indicators provided good and bad news about the UK economy today.

The bad news came from the Insolvency Service, which reported a record number of bankruptcies in the first quarter of this year.

The figure of 19,062 was 23 per cent up on the same seasonally adjusted figure for last year. The total of bankruptcies plus people taking out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement rose to a new high of 29,774.

The good news came in Bank of England figures that showed 39,230 loans were approved for people buying a house in March. This was a four per cent rise and the highest figure in 10 months.

But the rise was a slowdown from the February rate - which was up 18 per cent on January. And the growth in total consumer lending was down to £886 million, down from £1.5 billion the previous month and the lowest figure since records began in 1993.