US Mortgage Applications Fall as Refi Demand Drops

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Applications for U.S. home mortgages tumbled last week after three consecutive weeks of gains, with refinance demand slumping as interest rates rose, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchasedemand, fell 8.1 percent in the week ended Jan 25.

The index of refinancing applications dropped 10.2 percent. The refinance share of total mortgage activity eased to 79 percent of applications from 82 percent the week before. But the gauge of loan requests for home purchases - a leading indicator of home sales - held up relatively better, slipping just 1.8 percent.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates rose to their highest level since September.Rates were up 5 basis points to average 3.67 percent, compared to 3.62 percent the week before. The rate has increased in six of the last seven weeks.

The survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.