MBA mortgage applications index increased 7 percent last week

, Bloomberg

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Mortgage applications in the U.S. increased for a third straight week as purchasing and refinancing advanced.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's index rose 7 percent in the week ended Jan. 18 after a 15.2 percent increase in the prior week, the Washington-based group reported Wednesday. The refinance gauge went up 7.7 percent and the purchase index climbed 2.5 percent.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed loan increased to 3.62 percent from 3.61 percent. The cost of a 15-year mortgage fell to 2.87 percent from 2.88 percent.

The share of applicants seeking to refinance a loan was little changed at 81.6 percent, Wednesday's report showed.

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