April 5, 2017 / 3:39 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. mortgage activity falls to five-week low: MBA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. mortgage application activity hit a five-week low even as home borrowing costs were little changed from the prior week, Mortgage Bankers Association data released on Wednesday showed.

The Washington-based industry group said its measure on mortgage applications declined for a third consecutive week. It fell 1.6 percent to 397.1 in the week ended March 31.

The average interest rate on 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages, the most widely held type of U.S. home loan, was 4.34 percent, little changed from 4.33 percent from the prior week.

Conforming loans are those with balances of $424,100 or less and that qualify for guarantees from federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae (FNMA.PK) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.PK).

Rates on conforming 30-year loans were steady despite another weekly decline in benchmark U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR due to doubts on possible tax cuts and infrastructure spending and hints from Federal Reserve officials that the U.S. central bank is sticking to its gradual pace on rate increases.

Mortgage rates on some fixed-rate home loans that the MBA tracks were mixed last week.

The group’s seasonally adjusted gauge of applications to refinance an existing home loan fell 4.2 percent to 1,271.9, the lowest level in six weeks.

The share of refinancing applications shrank to 42.6 percent form 44.0 percent the preceding week, MBA said.

The MBA’s seasonally adjusted gauge of purchase application activity, a proxy for future home sales, edged up 0.7 percent to 239.8.

The share of applications for adjustable-rate mortgages was unchanged from the previous week at 8.5 percent.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli

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