SALES INCREASE: The UK housing market experienced slightly higher sales compared to this time last year, according to new figures.

A report from HM Revenue and Customs said 64,490 sales were completed during January, with 60,530 made in January 2012.

However, figures still show first-time buyers are struggling to get on the property ladder.

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The Council of Mortgage Lenders said lending stood at £10.4bn in January, which was down nine per cent on December and three per cent compared to January 2012.

FESTIVE BOOST: Supermarket chain Asda experienced its strongest online Christmas after sales rose by nearly 19 per cent between November 1 and January 31.

The company imports goods through PD Ports, in Teesport, and uses the Clipper warehouse, in Wynyard Park, near Billingham, to handle it's George clothing range.

It said it hoped to expand clothing deliveries across 24 countries in Europe this year.

It's parent company, US firm Walmart, said its sales had been slow at the start of the year.

COMPUTER CRASH: Hewlett Packard, the world's largest manufacturer of PCs, has blamed lack of demand after reporting a drop in sales.

The firm said it has experienced a six per cent fall in first-quarter sales as people move away from PCs to smartphones and tablet computers.

Its net sales in the three months to the end of January fell to £15.3bn.

INSURANCE LOSS: Insurer American International Group (AIG) has reported a major loss from the sale of its aircraft leasing business.

The company saw a net loss of £2.6bn for the last three months of 2012 due to the sale of ILFC.

It made a net profit of $21.5bn during the same period in 2011.