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UK house prices rise more than expected in March – Halifax

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose by a stronger-than-expected 2.7 percent in the first three months of 2018 after the weakest increase in nearly five years in the three months to February, figures from mortgage lender Halifax showed on Monday.

In monthly terms, prices rose by 1.5 percent in March from February, the fastest gain since August last year.

Both increases were stronger than forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

However, house prices are still rising much more slowly than before the 2016 referendum decision to take Britain out of the European Union which hit confidence among many households and their spending power as the pound’s fall pushed up inflation.

By Halifax’s measure, prices were rising by about 10 percent a year shortly before the Brexit vote.

A shortage of homes for sale is expected to continue to shore up the market and Halifax said it expected price growth to remain close to 3 percent in the coming months.

Rival mortgage lender Nationwide has said its measure of house prices showed the smallest increase in seven months in March when they rose by an annual 2.1 percent.

Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter

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