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U.S. Applications to Refinance Mortgages Surge for a Second Week

Vince Golle and Jeff Kearns

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Applications to refinance homes in the U.S. surged last week as mortgage rates retreated to an almost three-year low, adding to signs that cheaper borrowing costs are proving to be a tailwind for American consumers.

A gauge of mortgage refinancing volume jumped 36.9% to a three-year high of 2,742.9 in the period ended Aug. 9, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association report released Wednesday. The average contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage declined to 3.93%, the lowest since November 2016, the report also showed.

The report is the latest sign that the Federal Reserve’s first interest-rate cut in a decade is helping to support the housing market, which has been a drag on the expansion for six straight quarters. The rate on 30-year Treasury bonds approached an all-time low Monday amid growing global growth fears, nearing its record-low of 2.0882% from July 2016.

Despite the rush to lock in more favorable financing costs, applications for home-purchase loans were little changed, indicating that elevated property prices remain a sticking point for many buyers. MBA’s measure snapped a four-week losing streak, rising slightly from the lowest level since March.

--With assistance from Jordan Yadoo.

To contact the reporters on this story: Vince Golle in Washington at vgolle@bloomberg.net;Jeff Kearns in Washington at jkearns3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net

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