Activity in the housing market remains at a low ebb, but business investment was much stronger than thought at the end of last year and retail sales have steadied, a range of data showed yesterday. Financial Times

Mixed evidence on the extent to which credit constraints are holding back economic activity, coupled with more warning signs on inflation, make the timing of the next interest rate cut very uncertain.

The British Bankers’ Association said the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase rose from 43,732 in January to 43,870 last month, stabilising after the sharp falls seen in recent months. Yet that was still a third below the level of approvals in February 2007, so that the slight pick-up will do little to restore confidence.