HSBC yesterday bucked the trend for banks to pull out of the shrinking mortgage market by announcing plans to make £15bn of loans to UK homeowners next year – double the equivalent amount it lent last year.

The move is a surprise from one of the few big high street banks not to have been bailed out by the government, as most analysts expect lenders to continue pulling back from mortgages while house prices fall and defaults rise.

;We are punching above our weight,; said an HSBC spokesman.

The government has been stepping up its pressure on banks to maintain their levels of lending to consumers and small businesses to prevent the economic downturn mushrooming into a fully fledged depression.

HSBC has been increasing its share of UK mortgages, taking advantage of the financial difficulties that have forced may of its rivals to pull back from the market. This year its market share was 15%, up from its usual 5-6%.

Financial Times