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updated: 2/26/2014 6:44 AM

Mortgage applications in U.S. dropped last week as rates rose

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Mortgage applications in the U.S. fell last week as fewer Americans purchased homes and refinanced their properties.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's index decreased 8.5 percent in the period ended Feb. 21, the Washington-based trade group reported today. The purchase gauge fell 3.5 percent to the lowest level since August 1995, and the refinance measure declined 11.4 percent.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed loan rose for the second week in a row after more than a month of declines to reach 4.53 percent from 4.50 in the prior period. The average rate on a 15-year mortgage climbed to 3.56 percent from 3.55 percent the week before.

The share of applicants seeking to refinance dropped to 58.3 percent compared with 61.2 percent the week earlier.

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