By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK -- Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as interest rates rose to the highest level since January, an industry group said Wednesday.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, declined 3.5 percent to 361.2 in the week ended March 21 from an upwardly revised 374.2 the week before.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 7.7 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 2.8 percent. The previous week's data was revised up for both of those indexes as well.
Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.56 percent in the week, the highest level since January, and up 6 basis points from 4.50 percent the week before.
The survey covers more than 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.
Mortgage Applications Fall as Interest Rates Pick Up