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US Mortgage Rates Rise to 7.14%, Near Highest Level Since 2001

(Bloomberg) -- US mortgage rates resumed an upward trend last week toward a two-decade high, pointing to further weakness in housing demand.

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The contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage increased to 7.14% in the week ended Nov. 4, near the highest since 2001, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data released Wednesday. The group’s index of applications to buy a home edged up 1.3%.

The overall measure of applications, which includes refinancing, slipped and is the weakest since 1997. An index of refinancing activity fell to a 22-year low.

The housing market -- one of the most sensitive areas of the economy to changes in interest rates -- has deteriorated rapidly this year as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy to help reduce inflation.

The steady climb in fixed mortgage rates is encouraging more homebuyers to seek out cheaper financing options such as adjustable-rate loans. The five-year adjustable mortgage rate rose to 5.87%, the highest in data back to 2011.

The MBA survey, which has been conducted weekly since 1990, uses responses from mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. The data cover more than 75% of all retail residential mortgage applications in the US.

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