Mortgage applications rose 2.7% this past week after inching down a week earlier and experiencing a sharp 15% drop in early March, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. The market composite index — a measure of loan volume — increased 2.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending March 18. On an unadjusted basis, the index increased 2.8% when compared to the previous week. The four-week moving average for the seasonally adjusted market index is up 2.5%, while the four-week moving averages for the purchase index and refinance index are up 1% and 3.3%, respectively. The unadjusted purchase index jumped 3% over last week and is down 15.3% when compared to the same week a year earlier. Refinancing activity during the period held flat at 66.4% of total applications. Meanwhile, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed mortgage increased to 4.8% from 4.79% a week earlier. In addition, the average rate for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined slightly to 4.02% from 4.03%. Write to Kerri Panchuk.