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Pessimism on housing market

Building society lending hit its lowest level since February 1993 last month, according to the Building Society Association. At 35,000, the number of new advances was 17 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Adrian Cole, director-general of the BSA, said the housing market would remain subdued. "It is becoming clear that neither prices nor transactions will show any significant improvement in 1995," he said.

However, Halifax, Britain's largest building society, forecast a 4 per cent rise in house prices next year with an 8 per cent rise in 1997. The figures were branded optimistic by some analysts.