Mortgage approvals remain off highs

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Mortgage approvals for house purchases rose to their highest level this year in April, but the figures remained well below the 27-month high in December, data from the British Bankers' Association revealed yesterday. The number of approvals rose to 35,759 last month, compared to 35,044 in March and 30,649 in April last year.

The figures remained well below the 45,822 approvals recorded in December, however. They are also lower than the 59,849 monthly average seen since 1997.

Howard Archer, the chief UK and European economist at the forecaster IHS Global Insight, said the data "reinforce our suspicion that house prices will struggle to make significant gains over the coming months".