House prices showed a slight increase last month but are unlikely to move much over the rest of this year, Halifax said today.

Prices rose by 0.5% month-on-month across the UK in May, following a 2.3% monthly fall in April, to reach £160,941 on average, the bank adds.

In the three months to May, house prices were 0.8% higher than between December 2011 and February this year, marking the biggest increase over three months since last August.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis says that while there has been a "modest improvement" in prices recently, they are still very similar to those a year ago when they were 0.1% lower.

He says: "We expect this situation to continue, with prices likely to still be around today's levels at the end of 2012 as the ongoing tough economic environment constrains housing demand.

"Recent monthly house sales figures have clearly been affected by the ending of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers in late March. Overall, the trend for sales – like that for prices – appears to be one of broad stability."