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UK: House prices rise for first time in a year

  House prices rose 1.9% in January, the first increase in almost a year, according to the Halifax house price survey on Thursday.

But house prices still fell sharply on the year, down 17.2% in the three months to January compared with a year ago. The average house price is now £163,966 ($237,273) Halifax said. “There are some very early signs that market activity may be stabilizing, albeit at quite a low level,” said Halifax chief economist Martin Ellis.

“Nonetheless, continuing pressures on incomes, rising unemployment and the negative impact of the dislocation of the financial markets on the availability of mortgage finance are expected to mean that 2009 will be a difficult year for the housing market.” Analysts had predicted a fall of 1.6% on the month, for an annual decline of 18.4%. (Reuters)