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U.S. Mortgage Rates Little Changed Close to Record Lows

Mortgage rates were little changed, keeping borrowing costs near record lows as home prices extend a recovery from a six-year slump.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.32 percent in the week ended today, up from the the all-time low of 3.31 percent, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate rose to 2.64 percent from 2.63 percent.

Low mortgage rates are spurring home purchases, while a tightening supply of listings helps drive up prices. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose 3 percent in September from a year earlier, the most since July 2010, the group said this week.

“Housing is experiencing a sustainable upturn,” Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics Ltd. in London, said in a note to clients on Nov. 27, after the Case-Shiller report. “The fundamentals of very favorable housing valuations and affordability argue for further price gains in 2013.”

Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose 5.2 percent last month from September, the National Association of Realtors said today.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s measure of purchase applications climbed 2.6 percent in the week ended Nov. 23 to the highest point this year. The refinancing gauge dropped 1.5 percent, the Washington-based group said yesterday.

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