Mortgage applications increased last week on higher refinance activity and the interest rate for a traditional mortgage is 46 basis points off its 2011 high, according to a leading trade association. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its market composite index rose 8.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended May 6. On an unadjusted basis, the index climbed 8.3% from a week earlier. The seasonally adjusted refinance index climbed 9% to the highest level in nearly two months. The MBA said the seasonally adjusted purchase index rose 6.7% last week. The unadjusted purchase index climbed 7.1% but nearly 26% lower than a year earlier. In four-week moving averages, the market index is up 2.9%, with the purchase index up 0.4% and the refinance index 4.3% higher. “Rates dropped again last week as the Federal Reserve continued its QE2 asset purchase program,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA vice president of research. “The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is now 46 basis points below its 2011 peak, and has decreased for four straight weeks by a total of 31 basis points. Over this four-week span, the refinance index has increased by about 18 percent. Despite the recent increases however, refinance application volumes remain more than 50 percent below levels seen last fall.” Refinancings accounted for 63.1% of all mortgage applications last week up from 62.7% the previous week and at the highest level in more than a month. The MBA said the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.67% last week from 4.76% a week prior. The average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage declined to 3.81% from 3.96%. Last November, the rate for a traditional, 30-year mortgage nearly fell below 4% and the 15-year, fixed rate was about 3.64%. Write to Jason Philyaw.

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