House prices bounce back

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House price growth almost doubled in April, new figures from building society Nationwide reveal.

Its house price monitor states that monthly growth increased to 0.9 per cent in April from 0.5 per cent last month.

As a result the annual rate of growth, which slipped into single figures to 9.3 per cent in March, reached 10.2 per cent in April.

Despite the jump Nationwide said the underlying trend remained a cooling of the market.

It added that movers rather than first-time buyers were sustaining market demand as affordability constraints hit those struggling to get on the property ladder.

But even here Nationwide saw demand beginning to wane, with the threat of further interest rate rises likely to make matters worse.

Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's chief economist, warned that further radical interest rate hikes would prove "damaging to housing market stability".

"With the market already showing signs of cooling, too sharp a rate hike could undermine market confidence and dry demand up swiftly. But on top of this, they could also lead to widespread payment difficulties which, in an illiquid market, could precipitate price falls," she said.

The Bank of England is widely expected to increase interest rates next month after consumer price index inflation rose to 3.1 per cent in March, forcing governor Mervyn King to write an explanatory letter to chancellor Gordon Brown.

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