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vital statistics

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lHome loans were down by £1 billion in May to £23.8 billion, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.The number of house purchase loans also dropped from 118,000 in April to 103,000, suggesting a cooling in the housing market.

l Living in the countryside is good for your health.Men in rural communities outlive those in the city by almost 18 months.

According to the government's State of the Countryside report,115,000 people moved into the country during 2002.

l Couples will borrow nearly £542 million tying the knot this year. A study by Sainsbury's Bank showed that up to 5,000 couples will even remortgage their homes to pay for their dream wedding.

l Greenwich Peninsula developer Quintain Estates more than doubled its wage bill and increased total expenses by 85 per cent as it took on new staff for its regeneration projects at the Millennium Dome and Wembley Stadium.

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