Mortgage Applications Rise

Mortgage applications increased 5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending Feb. 20, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said. The slight jump from the previous week came despite slightly higher mortgage interest rates, however refinance applications fell 8 percent from the previous week, dragging down total mortgage application volume by 3.5 percent. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) increased to 3.99 percent from 3.93 percent, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. Rates have been on the upswing recently due to improved news from overseas markets, and a robust U.S. employment report in January.