Continued lending could lead to mortgage rises

27 February 2004
Banking giant HSBC has warned that if people keep borrowing the interest rate - and therefore mortgage repayments - could rise again.

An index published by HSBC, providing a benchmark of consumer financial confidence, has shown that consumer debt remained high during February.

Based on data collected from approximately 1,700 branches in Britain, the index was at 163 in February even though the Bank of England raised interest rates at the beginning of the month.

February's results were eight per cent higher than the year before and had increased from January's 132, according to Reuters.

Aiming to calm growing consumer debt levels down, the four per cent rise appears to have not affected borrowing confidence, especially in the mortgage sector.

Figures show an increase of two per cent in total credit inquiries in the three months up to the end of this month.

UK economist at HSBC, John Butler told Reuters: "This index shows there was little immediate reaction to the latest rate rise. If this trend continues in coming months, interest rates could rise faster than we or the financial markets currently expect."