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UK lender says house prices rose 1 pct in December

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LONDON (AP) — U.K. house prices rose 1 percent in December, ending the year 1.1 percent higher than at the end of 2008, the country’s biggest mortgage lender said Thursday.

Halifax said prices in December were 9.4 percent higher than at the low point in April.

Last month, the Nationwide Building Society, the No. 3 mortgage lender, said house prices were up 5.9 percent for the year, following a rise of 0.4 percent in December.

The differing reports were based on each company’s own lending activity.

“The prospects for the market this year will depend on how the U.K. economy evolves and whether there is a significant increase in the supply of properties for sale,” said Martin Ellis, Halifax’s housing economist. “Overall, our current view is that house prices will be flat during 2010.”

Seema Shah, analyst at Capital Economics, said she still believed “that a second leg in the house price correction still lies ahead.”

“Given the still weak outlook for unemployment and wage growth, as well as the looming fiscal squeeze, house prices are likely to end this year lower than they have started it,” Shah said.