House prices in the UK are increasing at the slowest annual rate in five years, according to mortgage lender Halifax. Prices rose by 1.5 per cent in the three months through October. This is the lowest rate since March 2013. During the month of October alone, prices gained 0.7 per cent, just shy of the 0.8 per cent expected by economists.

The report follows similar data from Nationwide Building Society. The report also showed that house prices are falling on a broad basis, although the steepest falls remain focused in London and southeast England after decades of booming real estate values left affordability stretched, and as Brexit adds uncertainty about the economic outlook. The average UK home price now stands at £227,869 (€261,387), Halifax said.

In the meantime, in Germany, the Federal Statistics Office reported last week that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, exports fell by 0.8 per cent in September from August to €109.5 billion, missing a forecast of a 0.3 per cent rise. On the other hand, imports dropped by 2.7 per cent, below predictions of a 0.2 per cent drop.

The trade surplus, that is, the difference between exports and imports, widened to €18.3 billion from €15.9bn. The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, said that the third-quarter slowdown was due to temporary difficulties in the car industry and expects a rebound, but an escalation of trade tensions could undermine that.

Finally in the US, growth in the vast services sector grew more than expected in October, albeit cooling slightly after a record-setting performance in September. The Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing index came in at 60.3 in October, above the 59.3 expected by economists. The index jumped to 61.6 in September, which was its fastest expansion on record.

“The non-manufacturing sector has again reflected strong growth despite a slight cooling off after a record month in September,” ISM chair Anthony Nieves said in a statement.

The report comes on the heels of an earlier Labour Department report that showed that the US economy created 250,000 non-farm jobs in October, beating analysts’ estimate of 190,000 new job additions.

This report was compiled by Bank of Valletta for general information purposes only.

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