Mortgage applications inched higher last week as interest rates for the traditional 30-year, fixed home loan rose for the first time in more than a month, according to a leading trade association. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its market composite index rose 1.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended May 20. The MBA said the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 4.69% last week from 4.6% a week prior. The average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage increased to 3.78% from 3.75%. Last November, the rate for a traditional, 30-year mortgage nearly fell below 4% and the 15-year, fixed rate was about 3.64%. On an unadjusted basis, the market composite index increased 0.9% from a week earlier. The seasonally adjusted refinance index also edged up 0.9% to the highest level since December, according to the MBA. The seasonally adjusted purchase index rose 1.5% last week. The unadjusted purchase index climbed 0.8% and was 3.1% higher than a year earlier. In four-week moving averages, the market index is up 5.2%, with the purchase up 1.2% and the refinance index 7.1% higher. Refinancings accounted for 66.8% of all mortgage applications last week up slightly from 66.7% the previous week and at the highest level in more than a month. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said sales of new single-family homes rose 7.3% in April from a month earlier to the  seasonally adjusted rate of 323,000 units. April new home sales were down 23.1% from 420,000 a year earlier. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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