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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Today we look at the latest goings on in the UK property market, with news of both mortgage approval and house price increases, while we also bring you an update on the latest Lloyds share sale and FTSE movement.


'Biggest increase since 2009' for mortgage approvals

Mortgage approvals in the UK experienced their most significant climb for more than six years in April. The findings from the Bank of England, which revealed the number jumped by 6,131 to reach 68,076 for the month, point to a marked strengthening of the housing market.

The increase was the biggest since February 2009, while the statistics also indicated lending to consumers remained strong. Net mortgage lending for the month came to £1.7 billion, while net consumer credit stood at £1.2 billion.

The figures mean mortgage approvals have now climbed in four of the last five months. The momentum this year comes after 2014 saw approval numbers falling throughout the year due to restricted house price growth and the effect of new mortgage lending controls. 

Property price climb 'helped by semi-detached homes'

Increases in the cost of semi-detached homes in England and Wales are helping to drive a climb in overall property prices. This is according to the latest findings from the Land Registry, which revealed the value of semi-detached houses jumped by 5.6% over the past year.

This meant the price of semis rose at a faster pace than any other property type over the 12 months to the end of April. Indeed, the values escalated quicker than flats and detached homes, which experienced climbs of 5.4% and 5.1% respectively.

Such movement contributed to house prices overall increasing by 0.9% from March to April and by 5.1% over the course of the year. The average house price now stands at £179,817. 

Lloyds retail share sale 'to come within 12 months'

A sale of Lloyds retail shares will begin within the next 12 months, the government has confirmed. The Treasury revealed the sale will be made available to the public, with more details to be released in due course.

The government said it would launch a sale of Lloyds shares to investors as part of its pre-election pledge, while it also confirmed its plan to sell off the bank's shares would be extended to the end of this year, having originally been pencilled in to finish at the end of June.

It was also revealed that the government's stake in the bank now stands at under 19%, as it has sold a further 1% of its shares.  

FTSE falls after tobacco stock drop

A drop in tobacco stocks contributed to the FTSE 100 experiencing a fall on Tuesday. The index was down 0.8% at 6,897.33 points in early morning trading after shares in British American Tobacco dropped by 2.3% and Imperial Tobacco dipped by 2.1%.

The movement came after smokers were awarded more than C$15 billion (£7.85 billion) in damages as part of a class action by a court in Canada.

However, the losses for the FTSE were limited due to Wolseley, a plumbing supplies group, posting strong gains. The company reported a quarterly revenue climb of 12.4%, leading it to rise by 2.9%.