HOUSE PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE The latest house price inflation figures show annual price increases of 5.7% in the year to June. Whilst this was only a modest increase from the previously reported figure of 5.7%, an increase was recorded across all areas of England and Wales. Since annual house price increases peaked at 12% in September 2014, there has been a steady longer-term downward trend, however, this latest figure reversed that. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) records average house or flat prices in June rose to a record high of £277,000. Although stating that prices rose in all regions, there were, as always, wide regional variations. The highest price rises were seen in Northern Ireland, where they saw average price increases of 9%. Across England as a whole, the figure was 6.1%, whilst Wales recorded only a modest rise of 0.8%. Scotland, meanwhile, saw prices fall by 0.6%. The ONS cited strong housing demand and weaker new house building supply as being a combination major factors in these increase, as they also reported new house building across the UK rose by only 4.6% over the last twelve months, which is the lowest rate of annual increase seen since March 2013. This fact is further compounding the overall housing shortage. At the same time, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) also reported that the number of homes – both houses and flats – becoming available on the market for sale had sunk to a record low. These latest figures present a serious conundrum for potential first-time buyers as, given that annual house prices are now rising by 5.7% across the land, wages are only rising by 2.4%, possibly condemning them to the rental market rather than outright purchase.
MARKETS (AUG) (DATA SUPPLIED BY THE OUTSOURCED MARKETING DEPARTMENT) August saw a turbulent month across all markets with China’s devaluation of the Yuan, for the third time in a year, precipitating dramatic equity market volatility and losses in their domestic market which then escalated across the globe on fears of a Chinese economic slowdown. The initial (probably knee-jerk) reaction was for the FTSE100 to lose 10% of its value in a week, losing nearly 5% in one day alone. However, these losses were partially recouped, with August 25th seeing a rise of 182 points, and August 27th a rise of 212 points, its biggest daily rise for four years. It finished August at 6,247.9, to finally record a monthly loss of 6.7%. The wider FTSE250 fared slightly better, but still lost 3.22% to 17,108.4. The American markets simply followed suit as the Dow Jones lost 6.57%, closing August at 116,528.03, with the technology based Nasdaq also dropping 6.86% to 4,776.51. Likewise, European markets were not immune as the Eurostoxx50 ended the month on 3,280.78, to record a loss of 8.88% for the month. Meanwhile, the Japanese Nikkei225 index also dipped 8.23% in the month, to close at 18,890.48. However, this is still 8.25% up on the year to date. On the foreign exchanges, Sterling was also out of favour, sliding 1.9% against the US Dollar to $1.53 and 4.2% against the Euro to €1.36. The Euro currency also improved against the US Dollar, gaining 2.7% to $1.13. Gold saw some demand, probably reflecting its safe-haven reputation, as it gained 4.1% to end August at $1,141.49 a troy ounce. Black gold – Oil, as measured by the Brent Crude benchmark, had a quiet month, rising only marginally to $52.62 a barrel, but is still down 8.2% on the year to date.