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House prices up by 0.4%

The May figures represent the fourth consecutive monthly increase

House prices between March and May were 1.5 per cent higher than in the previous three months, according to new figures from Halifax, with increases of between 1 per cent and 2 per cent in each of the past five months.

"House prices continue to pick up gradually," said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist. "Market activity has also improved slightly in recent months although home sales remain low by historical standards. Despite these recent signs of improvement in the housing market, the subdued economic background and the accompanying weak income growth continue to be a significant constraint on housing demand and activity."

Prices in the March-May period were 2.6 per cent higher than in the same three months last year.