UK house prices fell unexpectedly last month, dropping 1% between November and December, although the market still registered near double-digit gains for 2006, says the Financial Times .
The latest figures from Halifax were at odds with analysts’ forecasts of a small rise.
Northern Ireland was the region which saw the biggest increase in prices last year, while demand for property in London means the average price of a home in the capital is for the first time subject to inheritance tax.
The national average cost of a home is now £186,035, taking the annual pace of house price inflation to 9.9%, just above the long-term average increase of 8%, says the paper.
BARCLAYS GLOBAL Investors is poised to raise $1bn (£514m) for its first fund of external hedge funds, according to the Daily Telegraph.
BGI, led by Barclays Capital chief Bob Diamond, is understood to be in the early stages of raising the money, which it hopes to raise within 18 months.
The new fund, the bank's first fund of external hedge fund managers, is to be run by BGI's Alpha Management Group and called AlpEx.
The fund was launched late last year, but, at the time, Stan Beckers, who runs Alpha Management, declined to comment on how much might be raised.
THE THREAT of a new rise in interest rates as soon as next month rose sharply yesterday after buoyant figures showed soaring activity in the services sector, record company profitability and the housing market “mini-boom” continuing from last year, reports the Times.
As the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) prepares to gather tomorrow for the first time this year, ahead of next week’s January base-rate verdict, the spate of news suggesting the economy had begun the new year in rude health fuelled City speculation over a February rate rise.
The services sector roared into 2007 with activity during December at its strongest in nearly a decade, according to the latest gauge of conditions in the CIPS/RBS purchasing managers’ survey.
The survey’s headline index rose to 60.6 for last month, its highest since June 1997, and up from 59.8 in November.
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