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Friday, May 20, 2005

More Signs Of UK Slowdown

U.K. credit-card borrowing dropped for the first time in more than a decade in April and mortgage lending grew by the least since February 2002. This latest data follows lots of other signals of a continuing slowdown. The real question now is: how far will it go?

"A report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on May 17 said house prices fell in April, while activity in the market decreased 30 percent from a year earlier. Overall net lending in the month rose by 4.4 billion pounds in April, down from 5.04 billion pounds in March, the bankers' association said.

``People are becoming very cautious,'' said David Dooks, director of statistics at the association, whose members include HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. ``House prices aren't rising and people are tightening their belts.''

The annual rate of increase in U.K. retail sales in April dropped to the lowest in two years, a government report yesterday showed. Boots Group Plc, the Nottingham-based owner of the U.K.'s largest drugstore chain, yesterday said demand hasn't improved after slack consumer spending contributed to a drop in second-half profit"

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