Marketwatch – April 2012

If anyone needs any cheering up at the moment, then all you have to do is be thankful you are not chancellor George Osborne.

After a Budget that was widely derided, he is now faced with the news that the UK is in another technical recession.

One of the biggest contributors was a particularly sharp fall in construction, which led to a 0.2% drop in gross domestic product.

However, these figures have a habit of being revised upwards and there are many who think they may not be correct.

For most of us, this means nothing really and I saw a good interview with a factory owner on the news who echoed my thoughts that we should not worry about what we can’t control. Things could be much worse and there is still business to be done.

In the markets, swaps rose a touch once more while LIBOR has stayed firm.

Three-month LIBOR is unchanged at 1.01%.

1-year money is up 0.01% at 1.025%
2-year money is up 0.01 at 1.33%
3-year money is up 0.03at 1.42%
5-year money is up 0.02% at 1.665%

There has been a raft of lender changes over the past few days, which echoes the peripatetic nature of the market at present.

Woolwich, which has reaffirmed its commitment to lending the same as last year and supporting the intermediary market, has launched some fixed rates.

What I like about its strategy is that it is actively reacting to market changes elsewhere and trying to offer relevant products, this time targeting those set for an SVR payment shock.

Its online case management system has also become much better since its recent changes.

Newcastle Building Society is the latest lender to cut its interest-only to 50% LTV, down from 75%, although it says this is temporary. It has also made a welcome return to the self-build market.

Coventry for Intermediaries has cut rates by up to 0.3% on both residential and buy-to-let products.

Its two-year fixes now start at 3.18% and five-year products at 3.89%. On the buy-to-let side, 3.99% with just a £1,249 arrangement fee is great value. Remember, they come with free valuations up to £700 to boot.

Furness Building Society is getting in on the action with a decent 90% LTV product discounted for three years at 4.99% and just a £199 fee.

Meanwhile, BM Solutions has released some great rates backed by its usual top service, including a 4.79% tracker with a flat £1,995 fee and a low fixed rate at just 3.44% with a 2.5% fee.

Finally, I was interested to see last week that Santander was getting some grief over its fast-track system. I know it helps lenders processing-wise, but I still believe it causes issues and should be put out to grass.

Heroes & Villains

Hero of the week
Good BDMs – they can make a difference and throughout all the changes and rate pulls, they have taken the flak and sorted out issues on the ground. It’s a tough job these days and the good ones stand out a mile.

Villain of the week
Manchester Building Society for de-linking customers’ mortgage rates from the base rate via a clause in the contract. It is worrying when lenders do this as consumers will not be expecting such a change in their contracts.