Mortgage rates declined this week but still hover above the all-time lows set and sustained for much of last month, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The average 30-year declined 0.05 points this week, but not enough to match record-lows set in recent weeks. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

The 15-year also dipped to 3.17 percent, down from 3.19 percent last week and 4.15 percent a year ago.

Although this week’s averages are still slightly higher than the record lows set in early February — in which the 30-year dropped as far as 3.87 — rates are still well below where they were to start the year, which has breathed some life into the economy.

“Fixed mortgage rates bottomed out in January and February of this year which is helping spur the housing market,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “For instance, pending existing home sales rose in January to its strongest pace since April 2010 and sales figures for December saw upward revisions.”

Housing data released this week showed home prices fell 4 percent year-over-year to their lowest mark since 2002. The drop follows a 3.9 percent decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller index the previous month, casting a troubling shadow over an otherwise brightening economic recovery.

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