UK housing
UK mortgage approvals slowed unexpectedly ahead of next week's electionReuters

Mortgage approvals in the UK fell in March, bucking a seasonal trend and betraying the uncertainty in the housing market ahead of the UK election.

Approvals fell to 61,341 in March, down from a six-month high of 61,523 in February, the Bank of England said on Friday (1 May).

Spring is traditionally a busy time in the housing market and analysts had expected the March figure to be higher than the previous month.

The UK's Office for National Statistics has said UK house price growth has showed signs of slowing down this year. Average house prices increased 7.2% in the year to February to 2015, down from the 8.4% growth it registered in January.

The main rival political parties in the UK have put forward competing housing policies as they vie to form the next government. The Labour party has pledged to impose rent controls on homes for private tenants. The Conservative party has vowed to make more public housing available for private purchase.

Polls have shown that no party will likely win a clear majority, raising the prospect of a coalition or minority government taking power at Westminster.