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Mortgage Apps Up 0.9% as Interest Rates Slide

house-graphupThe refinance side of the mortgage market saw yet another pickup in application activity in mid-May, boosting total volumes for the third straight week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Market Composite Index, a weekly released measure of loan application volume, edged up a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent for the week ending May 16, the group reported. Removing seasonal touches, the index rose just 0.4 percent week-over-week.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA's chief economist, said the recent downward trend in mortgage rates—which hit a six-month low last week—has helped push up demand for loans.

"Renewed concerns about the state of the global economy, particularly in Europe, led to a flight to quality to US Treasury securities, thereby pushing interest rates down in the US," Fratantoni said.

MBA's measure of refinance applications rose 4 percent over the previous week, bringing the refinance share of total applications up to 52 percent.

At the same time, the association's seasonally adjusted Purchase Index dropped 3 percent. The latest decrease is more sour news for a market segment that will need to strengthen as refinance volumes remain more than 65 percent below last year's levels.

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