The housing market is experiencing its weakest February since 2012

House prices have fallen again as confidence in the property market continues to deteriorate.

The average house was worth £257,406 in February, a drop of 0.5pc on the previous month.

5 things to start your day

1) Britain’s electric van champion has been hit with a legal threat over an unpaid bill | The entry was forced to end a winding-up petition amid the fall in its share price

2) Sainsbury’s closes Milton Keynes office after flexible working leaves 90 desktop computers empty | A supermarket giant closes its office and announces plans to close two Argos warehouses

3) An emerging risk for landlords in launching an investigation into the rental market | Examine consumer protection for renters as an additional blow to landlords

4) Shapps calls for coal-fired plants to remain open for another year | The facilities at the three remaining coal-fired power plants were due to close in 2022.

5) The owners of Selfridges carry up to £1.7bn of debt | Heavy borrowing against Oxford Street highlights a strategy aimed at maximizing returns

What happened overnight

Asian stocks have hit two-month lows and are headed for their best day in seven weeks.

China’s manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than a decade, new data shows, injecting hope into otherwise gloomy markets.

China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 52.6 last month against 50.1 in January and was well ahead of analysts’ forecast for 50.5, giving investors hope that the recovery can China offset global slowdown.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 1.5pc to leave behind a two-month low made in early trading hours, ahead of the data release.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 3.2pc, with developers and consumer-tech stocks leading and only two stocks falling. ​​Chinese stocks also got a boost, with China’s blue-chip CSI 300 Index jumping more than 1pc.

Japanese shares recovered from earlier losses to finish higher, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbing 0.3pc to close at 27,516.53, while the broader Topix index rose 0.2pc to 1,997.81.

Wall Street stocks ended lower in choppy trading, after new survey data showed consumer confidence declined in February on concerns about future job and business conditions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.7pc at 32,656.70. The broad-based S&P 500 eased 0.3pc to 3,970.15, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.1pc to 11,455.54.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose 1.6 basis points to 3.938pc, meaning benchmark bond yields rose by over 50 basis points in February.

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