NEW YORK Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell, including both new purchases and refinancings, in the latest week, 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 8.5 percent to 348.5 in the week ended February 21.
The data come a day after a closely-watched housing survey showed U.S. home price gains slowed in December, underscoring a loss of momentum in the housing recovery.
The MBA 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 4.53 percent last week, up 3 basis points from the previous week and at the highest since the week ending January 17.
The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 11.4 percent. The gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, fell 3.5 percent.
The survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Diane Craft)