Recession 'Bottoming Out' at Last? Positive Signs for Housing Market in UK's Latest Economic Surveys: Positive Signs as Housing Loans Pick Up

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Byline: Sin Barry

THE recession is at last showing some signs of bottoming out, according to research released by a top bank yesterday.

In its latest monthly analysis of the health of UK businesses the Royal Bank of Scotland reveals that while activity levels are still falling the rate of decline is easing.

And there are some positive signs for the depressed housing market.

New lending for home purchases picked up slightly in February, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

In its purchasing managers' index (PMI), RBS said that while output from private sector firms shrank for the 11th month in a row last month, the pace at which activity fell was the slowest since last September.

With the exception of Northern Ireland and the south-west of England, all UK regions saw slower rates of contraction at the end of last month.

The PMI report for Wales showed a further sharp contraction of the private sector economy last month.

However, the rate of decline in total activity remained steeper than the trend across the UK as a whole, but eased sharply to the slowest in seven months.

The seasonally adjusted business activity index registered by far its largest month-on-month gain to date, rising to 42.3 from February's all-time low of 34.2 - 50 denotes neutral.

The latest drop in business mainly reflected a further sharp decline in new work. In line with the trend for output, new business fell for the 10th month running, but much more slowly than in February.

Welsh firms also lowered selling prices for the sixth month running in March.

The rate of decline remained close to February's survey record and, of the 12 UK regions covered, Wales posted the third-steepest fall in charges. Services was the main source of lower output prices.

Manufacturers continued to fare worse than service providers in March. …