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Encouraging econ data boost weekly mortgage applications

A sign offering mortgage help at a Bank of America branch, New York City.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
A sign offering mortgage help at a Bank of America branch, New York City.

On the back of positive economic data, Americans applied for more mortgages last week.

Total mortgage application volume for the week ending Dec. 19 rose 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted week-over-week basis, according to data released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"Purchase application volume was up slightly for the week. Conventional purchase application volume was also up on a year-over-year basis for the first time in 2014, total purchase volume was only 0.9 percent below last year's level," said Mike Fratantoni, the association's chief economist. "This makes sense in light of the continuing stream of very positive data regarding the broader economy and the job market."

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The MBA also found that the refinance share of mortgage activity rose to 67 percent of total applications from 66 percent the week before.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased from 4.06 percent to 4.02 percent, the lowest level since May 2013, according to the MBA.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that November's new home sales declined 1.6 percent compared to the prior year's sales.

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