British mortgage approvals for house purchases suffered a surprise drop in January and mortgage lending was weak, Bank of England data showed on Friday.
A rise in the flow of credit in recent months, particularly in home loans, fed hopes that the central bank's flagship Funding for Lending Scheme is helping home buyers, even if lending to companies remains sluggish.
However, the latest data showed that mortgage approvals numbered 54,719 in January, down from 55,632 in December, falling short of analysts' forecasts for a rise to 56,500.
That is better than the monthly average of around 51,000 seen last year, but still just over half the level typical before the 2008 financial crisis.
Consumer credit rose by a net 0.4 billion pounds in January and mortgage lending grew by 147 million pounds, the smallest increase since August. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 0.2 billion pound increase in consumer credit and a 0.75 billion pound rise in mortgage lending.
Last week similar data from the British Bankers' Association showed a 14 percent plunge in mortgage approvals in January compared to a year earlier, as well as a drop compared to December.
The BoE's preferred gauge of money supply, M4 excluding intermediate other financial corporations, rose 0.9 percent on the month after no change in December, taking the annual growth rate to 4.7 percent. The month-on-month rise was the biggest since July.
(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova and William Schomberg)