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Mortgage applications drop 4% on weaker economic data

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The volume of mortgage applications fell 4% last week as incoming economic data dampened consumer confidence, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased from a week earlier even as interest rates declined. On an unadjusted basis, the refinance index  fell 5.7% while the purchase index as measured on a seasonally adjusted basis remained flat over the week ended May 27. The unadjusted purchase index fell 1.2% from the previous week. "Interest rates fell last week as incoming economic data was weaker than anticipated," said Mike Fratantoni, vice president of research and economics for the MBA. "Despite this drop in rates, the number of refinance applications fell. In fact, the last time mortgage rates were this low, refinance volume was more than twenty percent higher. It is likely that many borrowers still cannot qualify to refinance given the lack of equity in their homes." The four-week moving average for the seasonally adjusted market index rose 3%, while the four-week moving averages for the purchase index and the refinance index grew 1.1% and 3.8%, respectively. In addition, the refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 65.7% of total applications from 66.8% a week prior. In terms of mortgage rates, the rate for the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.58% from 4.69%, while the average interest rate for the 15-year, FRM remained unchanged at 3.78%. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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