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U.S. mortgage applications fall amid rising rates

(Xinhua)

08:49, March 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The latest drop in U.S. mortgage applications was due to mortgage rates climbing up to the highest level since December 2011, according to the Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released Wednesday by the U.S. Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

The MBA said the Market Composite Index of U.S. mortgage applications, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 7.4 percent in the week ending March 16, 2012 on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week.

The Refinance Index dipped 9.3 percent from the previous week, while the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index edged down 1.0 percent.

As a result, the four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index fell 2.79 percent from the previous week. The four week moving average dropped 4.31 percent for the seasonally adjusted Refinance Index, while this average ticked up 3.25 percent for the Purchase Index, said to the survey.

In addition, the association said the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages last week increased to 3.93 percent from 3.82 percent, while the average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.47 percent from 3. 36 percent.

"With the rate increase last week, refinances are obviously slowing, and the refinance share at 73 percent is down to its lowest level since last July," said Jay Brinkmann, MBA's senior vice president of research and education.

The average loan size of all loans for home purchase was 225, 463 dollars in February 2012, up from 216,888 dollars in January. The average for a refinance was 222,048 dollars, down from 227,563 in January.

The survey covers over 75 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

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