Gross residential mortgage lending totalled £25.5 billion in October, an annual fall of 0.9%, according to the latest data. The figures also show that purchase approvals by the main high street banks in October 2019 were 3.0% higher and remortgage approvals were 12.7% higher.
The Bank of England has downgraded the UK’s economic growth forecasts on the back of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and the global economic slowdown. The Bank also held interest rates at 0.75% as it significantly reduced growth projections for the next three years after modelling the impact of the Prime Minister’s deal to leave the EU. Latest projections from the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) forecast a slump in GDP of around 1% by the end of 2022, compared to the forecasts from August. GDP forecasts were downgraded to 1.2% for 2020 from 1.3%, and to 1.8% in 2021 from 2.3%, while the figure for 2019 was bumped up to 1.4% from the previous forecast of 1.3%. The committee said that three quarters of the projected slump was driven by the “weaker global environment” and recent “moves in asset prices”.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted by a majority of 7-2 to maintain Bank Rate at 0.75%, with Jonathan Haskel and Michael Saunders voting to reduce interest rates to 0.50%. Alongside Brexit-related volatility, the MPC noted that underlying UK GDP growth has "slowed materially this year" and a small margin of excess supply has opened up. The slowdown reflects weaker global growth and the domestic impact of Brexit-related uncertainties. CPI inflation remained at 1.7% in September and is expected to decline to around 1.25% by the spring.
The Woodford Equity Income fund announced on Tuesday (15 October) it is to be wound up in a letter to investors. The fund, which has been shuttered since 3 June due to a liquidity crisis, was slated to reopen in December after manager Neil Woodford had repositioned his portfolio into more liquid FTSE 100 stocks.
The High Court has dismissed a challenge against the government’s handling of the rise in women’s state pension age. The State pension age rose to 65 for women between 2010 and 2018, in line with men, and is due to rise to 66 by 2020. The Claimants were women born in the 1950s who have been affected by the legislation equalising the state pension age. They argued that the changes left them with inadequate time to prepare for their retirement and discriminated on the grounds of age and/or sex. They also sought judicial review of the government’s alleged failure to inform them of the changes.