LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) -

British house prices rose for the first time since June last year, increasing by 1.8% on an annual basis in March after a 0.2% fall in February, official figures showed on Wednesday.

A gauge of private rents rose by 8.9% in the year to April, representing the first slowdown so far in 2024, and down from 9.2% in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics data.

Britain's housing market has in recent months shown signs of recovery from last year's slowdown which was spurred by the surge in borrowing costs. Falling inflation has boosted household incomes and raised the prospect of interest rate cuts.

But a

smaller-than-expected fall

in British consumer price inflation in data published earlier on Wednesday prompted investors to slash their bets on a first interest rate cut by the Bank of England in June. (Reporting by Suban Abdulla Editing by William Schomberg)