Increase in lending after slow summer

30 September 2004
The number of people seeking personal loans, mortgages and equity withdrawal has picked up following the slow summer months, according to a new survey.

High street bank HSBC reported that unsecured borrowing activity, which normally dips in September, held up better than expected.

The attraction of equity withdrawal meanwhile remained robust, offsetting the waning appeal of mortgages.

A regional breakdown shows that Wales and the south west of England saw substantially increased activity and the north a slight increase. In contrast, both the south of England and the midlands experienced falls in overall enquiries compared with a year earlier.

Head of UK economics at HSBC, John Butler, said the figures showed that consumers were still keen to borrow money - which should serve as a warning to the Bank of England.

"It is too early to call the end of the household boom," he said. "There is a real danger that a softer tone from the Bank of England about the outlook for interest rates sparks a re-acceleration in consumer activity later in the year."

Commentators expect the Bank of England to leave the base rate unchanged for the second consecutive month when its monetary policy committee meets next week.
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