By Marcus Leach

Gross mortgage lending declined to an estimated £9.8 billion in April, down 14% from £11.4 billion in March and 5% from £10.3 billion in April 2010, according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

A slight seasonal decline was expected as Easter fell in April this year. Coupled with the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding, it is difficult to gauge underlying trends with any certainty.

In today’s market commentary, CML chief economist Bob Pannell said:

"Statistical noise, associated with extended holidays around Easter and the royal wedding, makes it harder to read the immediate market situation. This represents an unfortunate temporary loss of signal, at a time when it would be useful to gauge the resilience of house purchase demand to economic uncertainties and the pressure on household incomes.

"Levels of activity look set to remain broadly flat over the near-term. It now seems unlikely that interest rates will rise much, if at all, this year and this should help keep the market on an even keel."