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UK house price growth hits nearly four-year high - RICs

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - A measure of British house prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly four years in February as the residential property market picked up for a third month in a row, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said on Thursday.

However, a survey conducted by RICS also showed concerns over the potential impact of coronavirus on the market.

"For now at least, feedback around expectations are consistent with activity levels continuing to strengthen albeit relatively modestly," Simon Rubinsohn, RICS's chief economist, said in a statement.

RICS house price balance, based on a survey of its members, jumped to +29 in February, up from +18 in January and above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

It was the strongest reading of the price balance since April 2016.

Prices rose across the whole country but the gains were strongest in London, Yorkshire and the Humber, and in East Anglia, RICS said.

Britain's economy showed signs of recovery in early 2020 after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's clear-cut election win in December removed short-term uncertainty about Brexit and a possible shift in politics under the left-wing Labour Party.

But official data showed zero overall economic growth in January.

Britain's government and the Bank of England announced a double-barrelled package of higher spending and an interest rate cut on Wednesday to fend off the risk of a sharp downturn in the economy caused by the spread of coronavirus. (Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)