Credit demand slows this summer

29 July 2004
Recent interest rate hikes may at last be taking effect as consumer spending slackens for the second month running.

According to HSBC Bank's Index, July showed signs that confidence amongst spenders is beginning to slow down, with figures down three per cent on the same time last year.

HSBC announced that waning interest in unsecured loans was leading the decline but there has also been a significant drop in the number of enquiries about secured lending.

"It appears that the demand for new credit is slowing gradually suggesting that recent rate rises are finally making an impact," said John Butler, UK economist at HSBC. "We expect more rate rises and hence fewer enquiries in the coming months."

The UK has experienced four interest rate rises since November last year.

Even so, the sub-indices measuring demand for mortgage borrowing and equity withdrawal were definitely higher this July than in 2003.

The head of the bank's business economics team, Dennis Turner said: "Although the rate of increase in mortgage enquiries is easing, it remains strong and is particularly so in the south of England, suggesting the end of the housing market is not yet nigh."

The mortgage-borrowing index was up 8.4 per cent last month, while equity withdrawal increased by 10.4 per cent.