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Mortgage Applications Up as Refinancing Increases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage applications continued to rise last week, as low interest rates encouraged borrowers to refinance their home loans.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday its weekly application index climbed 3 percent for the week ended March 27. The index came in at 1,194.4, up from 1,159.4 a week earlier.

On an unadjusted basis, the index rose 2.9 percent compared with the previous week, the trade group said.

Nearly 80 percent of applications came from borrowers seeking to refinance home loans at lower rates, rather than purchase homes.

The trade group's application index remains below its peak of 1,856.7, reached in May 2003 at the height of the housing boom.

The survey provides a snapshot of mortgage lending activity involving mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. It covers about half of all new residential mortgage loans made each week.

An index value of 100 is equal to the application volume on March 16, 1990, the first week the MBA tracked application volume.

Seeking to prop up the ailing U.S. housing market, the Federal Reserve has committed to buy up to $1.2 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $300 billion in long-term government debt. That has pushed down mortgage rates.

The average rate for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 4.61 percent from 4.63 percent a week earlier, according to the MBA report.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 4.45 percent from 4.48 percent a week earlier, while the average rate for one-year adjustable-rate mortgages was fell to 6.20 percent from 6.22 percent.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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