Applications for refinance loans jumped 41.5 percent last week, after the Federal Reserve announced expanded purchases of mortgage-backed securities that pushed interest rates to lows not seen in six decades, the Mortgage Bankers Association said today. Applications for purchase mortgages for the week ending March 20 were up a more modest 4.2 percent, the MBA said, with requests for refinance loans accounting for 78.5 percent of all mortgage applications. The Fed announced on March 18 a $1.15 trillion expansion of its balance sheet, including a $750 billion increase to a previous commitment to buy $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae (see story). The Fed's announcement brought the average contract interest rate for 30-ye...
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