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NEW YORK, March 1 U.S. application activity to
refinance a mortgage climbed to its highest level since
mid-December as 30-year home borrowing costs declined to their
lowest in six weeks, Mortgage Bankers Association data released
on Wednesday showed.
The Washington-based industry group said its seasonally
adjusted measure of loan applications for mortgage refinancing
rose 5.1 percent to 1,290.8 in the week ended Feb. 24. This was
the highest since 1,449.4 in the week ended Dec 12.
Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages,
the most widely held type of U.S. home loan, averaged 4.30
percent, down from 4.36 percent the prior week. It was up about
half a percentage point from a year earlier.
Conforming loans are those with balances of $424,100 or less
and qualify for guarantees from federal mortgage agencies Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac.
Last week, mortgage rates fell in step with benchmark U.S.
Treasury yields, which dropped to five-week lows on
political worries about Europe and a soft batch of U.S. economic
Mortgage rates on other types of home loans that the MBA
tracks were broadly lower from the prior week.
The share of refinancing applications fell to its smallest
since November 2008 at 45.1 percent in the latest week from 46.2
percent, the Washington-based industry group said.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted gauge on purchase application
activity, a proxy for future home sales, rebounded from its
lowest level since November. It was up 6.5 percent from the
prior week at 231.0.
The group's barometer on overall mortgage activity on a
seasonally adjusted basis rose 5.8 percent in the latest week to
Mortgage applications "are showing signs of life in response
to lower-trending mortgage rates over the previous few weeks. To
be sure, we are hardly seeing any sort of refi or purchase
wave," Walt Schmidt, FTN Financial's head of mortgage strategy,
wrote in a research note.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and W