LONDON (Reuters) – The number of approvals for mortgages in Britain hit a six-year high in February, before the spread of the coronavirus hammered the economy, Bank of England data showed on Monday.

The number of mortgage approvals rose to 73,546, the highest since January 2014 and above a median forecast of just over 68,200 in a Reuters poll of economists.

Britain’s economy showed signs of a pickup in early 2020 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s emphatic election win.

But the housing market is likely to have ground to a near halt in March after the government ordered a shutdown of much of the economy and urged people to avoid moving house during the coronavirus outbreak.

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