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Average US 30-year mortgage rate down to 4.32 pct.

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, file photo, a for sale sign hangs in front of a house in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates on Thursday, March 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages declined last week, edging closer to historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.32 percent from 4.37 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.32 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago.

The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Deeming the economy to be gaining strength, the Fed announced in December and January — and again on Wednesday — that it was reducing its monthly bond purchases.