U.K. Home Prices Decline for Fourth Month

London–Higher interest rates and a bleak market outlook caused U.K. home prices to fall for the fourth consecutive month in January, Bloomberg said Monday.The average cost of homes in England and Wales declined by 0.3 percent–which was the rate of decline in December–to 174,700 pounds ($346,000), according to London-based research group Hometrack Ltd. Home prices were up 2.3 percent from a year earlier, the smallest gain since June 2006. The housing supply decreased–roughly 4.6 percent–as consumer confidence dropped in December.In addition, homes are sitting on the market longer, Hometrack says. Average selling time swelled to 8.5 weeks–its highest level since the research group began surveying real estate agents and surveyors in 2001.The dour news has increased predictions that the Bank of England will reduce the benchmark interest rate in early February, following its cut last month. Governor Mervyn King said last week that a declining housing market “will go hand in hand” with reduced consumer spending this year, Bloomberg said.