December 5, 2018 / 3:52 PM / 6 days ago

U.S. mortgage activity rises near two-month high: MBA

(Reuters) - U.S. borrowers filed the most mortgage applications in nearly two months as 30-year home loan costs fell to their lowest levels since early October, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Homes are seen for sale in the southwest area of Portland, Oregon March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

The Washington-based group’s seasonally adjusted measures on consumer requests for a loan to buy a home and to refinance an existing one rose 2.0 percent to 340.5 in the week ended Nov. 30. This was the strongest reading since 346.7 in the week of Oct. 5.

Interest rates on 30-year, fixed-rate “conforming” mortgages with balances of $453,100 or less, averaged 5.08 percent last week, which the lowest since the week of Oct. 5. They averaged 5.12 percent the prior week.

Interest rates on other types of home loans MBA tracks were mixed from the previous week.

Mortgage rates have fallen in step with lower U.S. Treasury yields on worries about slowing economic growth and trade tension between China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies.

“Treasury rates continued to slide last week, driven mainly by concerns over slowing global economic growth and U.S. and China trade uncertainty,” Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield US10YT=RR fell to 2.885 percent, its lowest level since Sept. 7.

U.S. financial markets are closed on Wednesday for a national day of mourning for former U.S. President George W.H. Bush who died last Friday.

MBA’s seasonally adjusted measure on mortgage refinancing rose 6.2 percent to 836.4 last week, rising further above a near 18-year trough reached in the week of Nov. 16.

The group’s seasonally adjusted index on loan applications to buy a home, which is seen as a proxy on future housing activity, edged up 0.8 percent to 249.9.

Separately, the average loan size for purchase applications fell to $298,000, the lowest amount since December 2017 last week from $313,000.

“This is perhaps an indication that there are fewer jumbo borrowers, or maybe first-time buyers are having better success reaching the market as we close out the year,” Kan said.

GRAPHIC: U.S. Mortgages interactive - tmsnrt.rs/2RnEpRD

Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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