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UK home prices slip last month

HOUSE prices in Britain in April gave up some of the unexpected gains made in March, one of the country's biggest mortgage lenders said yesterday.

In its monthly assessment, the Nationwide building society said the average British house price fell a modest 0.4 percent in April. In March, house prices rose 0.9 percent, the first increase in nearly 18 months.

Compared with the previous year, house prices were 15 percent lower in April, compared with 15.7 percent in March.

Nationwide's chief economist Fionnuala Earley said recent government tax and credit measures to boost the housing market were welcome but were unlikely to turn things around overnight.

Economic fundamentals, related to the recession, will remain the main driver for the market, Earley said.

"The housing market is very sensitive to income and, as a result, conditions in the labor market are crucial to its performance," she said.

By the end of February, unemployment in Britain was at 2.1 million, or 6.7 percent of the working population, and many economists believe it could breach the 3 million barrier by the end of this year.

House prices in Britain have been falling since late 2007 as the economy slowed down sharply and eventually sank into its deepest recession since World War II.


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