U.S. mortgage applications slip in latest week -MBA

NEW YORK, March 12 Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:00am EDT

NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell in the latest week as interest rates edged higher, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 2.1 percent to 373.3 in the week ended March 7.

The index hit its lowest level since December 2000 at the end of last year, soon after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would start reducing its $85 billion per month bond-buying program as the economy grows strong enough to stand on its own.

The interest rate on fixed 30-year mortgages averaged 4.52 percent last week, up 5 basis points from the previous week.

The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 3.1 percent. The gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, fell 0.5 percent.

The survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA. (Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Leslie Adler)