House prices will fall this year, Nationwide building society has said, the first big mortgage lender to forecast a drop in the housing market after its figures showed prices declining in March for the fifth successive month. Financial Times (Saturday)

The gloomy outlook on house prices coincided with new data showing consumer confidence at a 15-year low and weaker household spending, raising the risk of a severe economic slowdown.

Annual house price inflation fell to 1.7%, its lowest in 12 years, Nationwide said, and unless the housing market does better in April than this month, the inflation measure will dip below zero in a month’s time.