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Industry group says mortgage applications fall in latest week

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for home mortgages fell last week, dropping to a multi-year low, an industry group said on Wednesday.

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The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.5 percent to 374.6 in the week ended December 13.

The index has fallen for six of the past seven weeks. Mike Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said the index dropped to its lowest "in more than a dozen years... as interest rates increased going into today's Federal Open Market Committee meeting."

The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 4.3 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, lost 6.1 percent.

The refinance share of total mortgage activity rose to 65.8 percent of applications from 65 percent the week before, while adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell to 7.9 percent of total applications, down from 8.1 percent last week, which had been its highest level since July 2008.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.62 percent in the week, up 1 basis point from 4.61 percent the week before.

The survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Diane Craft)

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