Overall mortgage applications gained 0.5 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, taken higher by an upswing in refinancings, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The seasonally adjusted refinance index increased by 1.8 percent to 1,790.4 from 1,758.2 the previous week, while the purchase index decreased by 0.6 percent to 382.4 from 384.7 one week earlier.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 45.6 percent of total applications from 45 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 26.1 percent of total applications from 26.5 percent the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.36 percent from 6.33 percent, with points including the origination fee decreasing to 1.04 from 1.15 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing, are expressed as a percent of the total loan amount.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.03 percent from 6.01 percent, Points including the origination fee decreased to 1.04 from 1.08 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 5.97 percent from 5.94 percent, with points including the origination fee increasing to 0.90 from 0.86 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association is a national association representing the real estate finance industry. The 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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