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Mortgage Rates for U.S. 30-Year Loans Match Record Low of 3.87%

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Rates for 30-year U.S. mortgages held at the lowest level on record as fewer Americans sought loans for home purchases.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was unchanged in the week ended today at 3.87 percent, the lowest in records dating to 1971, Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate climbed to 3.16 percent from 3.14 percent, according to the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company.

Financing applications for home purchases declined 6.9 percent in the past four weeks, said Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics in London, citing figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The data suggest that recent improvements in U.S. home sales may not be “built on solid foundations,” he wrote in a note to clients yesterday.

“At some point, mortgage applications will have to improve to keep the recovery in home sales going,” Diggle said in the note. “We believe that faster jobs growth and slightly looser credit will provide this boost to mortgage demand.”

Sales of previously owned homes rose 5 percent in December from the previous month to the highest level since January 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 8.3 percent in January, the Labor Department reported last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in New York at pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Taub at dtaub@bloomberg.net

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