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US mortgage applications rise for 3rd straight week

U.S. mortgage applications rose for the third straight week as interest rates pulled back, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

The seasonally adjusted market composite index edged 1.6% higher in the week that ended Dec. 7 from the prior week. On an unadjusted basis, the index slipped 1%.

The unadjusted refinance index increased 2%. The refinance share of mortgage activity climbed to 41.5% of total applications from 40.4%, hitting the highest level since March.

The purchase index rose 3% after seasonal adjustments. On an unadjusted basis, the measure was down 2%.

"Mortgage rates fell across the board last week, driven by a similar slide in Treasurys," said Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. "Trade fears dominated investors' concerns for another week, and this was amplified by data released by the U.S. Commerce Department showing a widening trade deficit."