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US mortgage activity falls to 10-month low as rates jump

[NEW YORK] A measure of US mortgage application activity fell to a 10-month low as 30-year mortgage rates jumped to their highest levels since January, data from the Mortgage Bankers Association released on Wednesday showed.

Borrowing costs to buy a home and to refinance posted their steepest weekly increase since June 2013 during the "taper tantrum", with traders dumping bonds worldwide in reaction to Donald Trump's surprise US presidential win on Nov 8.

Traders are jittery about a surge in inflation, which erodes bond values, if Mr Trump pushes for the types of tax cuts and federal spending he campaigned for, analysts said.

The Washington-based industry group's mortgage market index fell 9.2 per cent to 436.3 in the week ended Nov 11, which was the lowest level since the week of Jan 15.

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances of $417,000 or less averaged 3.95 per cent, which was up from 3.77 per cent the previous week and the highest since January, MBA said.

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Average interest rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to their highest levels since March at 3.15 per cent and 3.11 per cent, respectively, it said. "Investor expectations of faster growth and higher inflation are driving the jump up in rates, and rates have now increased for five of the past six weeks, spurring a commensurate drop in refinance activity," MBA president and CEO David Stevens said in a statement.

MBA's weekly measure on application activity for refinancing fell last week 10.9 per cent to 1,810.1, its lowest level since March.

The refinance share of overall mortgage activity fell to 61.9 per cent, down from 62.3 per cent the previous week.

The group's weekly gauge on loan requests to buy a home, which is seen as a proxy on future home sales, decreased 6.2 per cent to 197.0, its lowest level since January.


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