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January was the best month for UK mortgage approvals since well before the EU referendum, according the Bank of England, highlighting the strength of demand in Britain’s housing market despite fears of slowing economic growth.

In total, 69,928 loans for house purchase were approved in January, the largest number since last February. Economists had expected a more modest climb to around 68,700. The Bank of England also revised figures for the end of the year, which showed approvals in December were slightly higher than previously thought.

The new data echo figures released by the British Banking Authority on Friday, which also showed approvals from the country’s largest banks near a 12-month high.

Unsecured lending to consumers also rebounded somewhat after December’s unexpected drop, rising in line with expectations to £1.4bn.

Consumption has driven the UK’s recent better than expected growth, but rising inflation has led many economists to predict a slowdown in spending growth as higher prices reduce real incomes.

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