Overall mortgage application volume picked up last week despite steadily rising interest rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The market composite index, a measure of total mortgage application volume, increased 3.2 percent last week, growing to 631.3 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 611.3 one week earlier.

Refinancings posted the strongest growth last week, as the seasonally adjusted refinance index climbed 4.9 percent from the previous week. The increase in applications to purchase homes boosted the purchase index by 1.3 percent.

Borrowing costs on long-term loans increased for the third straight week, with the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages up at 6.29 percent and the rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans up at 6.01 percent. Points, which are loan-processing fees expressed as a percent of the total loan amount, averaged 1.07 on both the 30- and 15-year loans.

Despite growth in refinancings, the refi share of total applications dipped slightly to 47.4 percent last week, while the adjustable-rate-mortgage share grew to 21.4 percent from 20.3 percent the week before, helped by a decrease in the average one-year ARM interest rate to 5.86 percent from 5.91 percent.

The Mortgage Bankers Association survey covers approximately 50 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

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