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U.S. Mortgage Rates Increase for First Time in 7 Weeks

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Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. mortgage rates rose for the first time in seven weeks, increasing from the record lows that have helped stabilize the housing market.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 3.55 percent in the week ended today from 3.49 percent, the lowest level in records dating to 1971, according to a statement from McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac. The average 15-year rate rose to 2.83 percent from 2.8 percent.

Low borrowing costs and a shrinking inventory of available properties are helping to bolster a real estate recovery. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of prices in 20 U.S. cities decreased 0.7 percent in the 12 months through May, the smallest decline since September 2010.

“House prices have turned the corner,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “The record-low mortgage rates are supporting the best affordability in at least four decades.”

An index of applications for refinancing climbed 0.8 percent in the week ended July 27, the Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday. The group’s purchase gauge dropped 2.3 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Rayman in New York at nrayman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net