Marginal fall in house prices – Nationwide

"House prices were 0.9% lower than April 2011. Much of the recent softness in measures of housing market activity and house prices is likely to relate to the expiry of the stamp duty holiday in late March.

"This provided a temporary boost to house prices in early 2012 as buyers brought forward purchases that would otherwise have taken place later in the year.

"This effect should fade in the months ahead, and measures such as the Government’s NewBuy scheme should provide some support to buyer demand.

"However, the challenging economic backdrop suggests that a significant acceleration in prices or activity is unlikely in the near term.

"The UK economy contracted by 0.2% q/q in the first three months of the year, after falling by 0.3% in Q4 2011. In economic terms the difference between a small rise in output and a fall of 0.2% over the quarter is not particularly significant.

"Nevertheless, a return to technical recession is likely to undermine already fragile confidence and weigh down on business investment and consumer spending in the near term."

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