U.S. Markets

U.S. home refinance activity falls despite lower mortgage rates

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. application activity to refinance a mortgage fell to its lowest in five weeks even as most home borrowing costs declined in the latest week, Mortgage Bankers Association data released on Wednesday showed.

The Washington-based industry group said its seasonally adjusted measure of loan applications for mortgage refinancing fell 2.9 percent to 1,239.6 in the week ended Feb. 10. This was the lowest level since 1,182.3 in the week ended Jan. 6.

The refinance share of mortgage activity dropped to 46.9 percent of total applications, its lowest level since June 2009, from 47.9 percent the previous week, MBA said.

On the other hand, loan application activity to buy a home edged up 1.1 percent to 223.9 in the latest week, according to the MBA.

The group’s seasonally adjusted gauge on overall mortgage application activity fell 3.7 percent to 379.00, its lowest level since late December.

Mortgage applications have stalled with the spike in interest rates following a bond market selloff across the globe following Donald Trump’s surprise U.S. presidential victory in November.

Investors have anticipated that Trump’s policies on tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending will spur spending and investments as well as inflation and federal borrowing.

Mortgage rates have retreated from more than two-year peaks in step with lower bond yields.

Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages, the most widely held type of U.S. home loan, averaged 4.32 percent, 3 basis points lower than the previous week.

Conforming loans are those with balances of $424,100 or less and qualify for guarantees from federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae FNMA.PK and Freddie Mac FMCC.PK.

Average 15-year mortgage rates were unchanged on the week at 3.55 percent, while five-year adjustable-rate loans fell to 3.34 percent from 3.39 percent.

Average interest rates on 30-year jumbo mortgages with loan balances greater than $424,100 inched up 1 basis point to 4.28 percent.

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by W Simon and Meredith Mazzilli