U.S. mortgage activity stabilizes as loan rates slip: MBA

Applications for U.S. mortgages stabilized at the end of 2016 following a recent drop as borrowing costs on home loans eased from more than two-year highs, Mortgage Bankers Association data released on Wednesday showed. The Washington-based industry group said its measure on requests for mortgages edged up to 358.5 in the week ended Dec. 30, 0.1 percent higher than the prior week. Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages, the most widely held type of U.S. home loans, averaged 4.39 percent, down from the prior week’s 4.45 percent which was the highest since April 2014. Conforming mortgages are those with balances of $417,000 or less and qualify for guarantees from federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae (FNMA.PK) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.PK). Interest rates on other types of mortgages were unchanged to 0.13 percentage point lower on the week. Domestic home borrowing costs retreated along with a drop in U.S. bond yields as investors scooped up U.S. government debt at year-end following a global bond market selloff triggered by worries about a surge in inflation and federal borrowing under a Trump administration.

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