U.S. mortgage applications dip, but purchase demand edges up -MBA


NEW YORK, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. homeloans dropped slightly in the latest week as decreasedrefinancing activity offset a slight rise in demand forpurchase loans, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonallyadjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includesboth refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 0.6 percent inthe week ended Oct. 18. That followed a gain of 0.3 percent inthe previous week.

The figures came against the backdrop of a U.S. federalgovernment shutdown, which ended during the latter part of lastweek. The shutdown cast a spotlight on fiscal policy, with someeconomists worrying it put a drag on the economy.

The shutdown affected the mortgage market, the MBA said inthe previous survey.

MBA data showed 30-year mortgage rates edged down 7 basispoints to 4.39 percent, the lowest rate since June.

The refinancing index fell 1.3 percent. By contrast, thegauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicatorof home sales, rose 0.7 percent.

The mortgage survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retailresidential mortgage applications, according to MBA.

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