Building societies optimistic for 2004

* Building society gross advances amounted to £4,471 million in November 2003, increasing from £3,055 million in November 2002.

* Net advances were £2,074 million in November 2003, up from £859 million in November 2002.

* Approvals (loans agreed, but not yet made) increased to £4,105 million in November 2003, from £3,307 million in November 2002.

* In the savings market, building societies had net inflows of £614 million in November 2003, down from £781 million in November 2002.

* Building society net receipts into cash ISAs were £106 million in November 2003.

Commenting on the mortgage market, Adrian Coles, Director-General of The Building Societies Association said:

"As we come to the end of the year there is little sign of a slow-down in building society mortgage activity. Levels of lending remain well above those of a year ago. The value of loans approved but not yet lent are 40% higher than a year ago, pointing to a busy first quarter of 2004 for building societies."

On the savings side, Mr Coles said:

"There has been some recovery in building society savings inflows in November, perhaps as a result of the increase in interest rates early in the month. Interest rates are predicted to rise slowly through 2004, so I would expect people to think more favourably about savings next year."