Mortgage rates crept slightly higher this week, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average rose to 3.41 percent, up from 3.37 percent a week ago but down from 4.10 percent a year ago at this time.

The 15-year fixed-rate average also increased, rising to 2.72 percent from 2.66 percent a week ago. It was 3.38 percent a year ago at this time.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were mixed. The five-year ARM remained the same as last week at 2.75 percent, while the one-year ARM edged down to 2.59 percent from 2.60 percent a week ago. A year ago, the five-year ARM was 3.08 percent and the one-year ARM was 2.990 percent.

“Mortgage rates remained relatively unchanged this week and should continue to support the housing market and mortgage refinance,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “Existing home sales in September eased slightly to 4.75 million but was the second strongest annualized pace since May 2010. Moreover, new home sales rose to the most since April 2010. In addition, low rates and strong demand have already pushed the FHFA purchase-only home price index in August to its highest level (seasonally adjusted) since June 2010. And not surprisingly, the Federal Reserve in its October 24th monetary policy announcement acknowledged the further signs of improvement in the housing sector, albeit from a depressed level.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications declined for the third week in a row, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, fell 12 percent from last week. The Refinance Index went down 13 percent, while the Purchase Index dropped 8 percent compared with the previous week.

Although the refinance share of mortgage continued to fall, it still accounts for 81 percent of applications.

The MBA said this week that it expects refinances to fall off and purchases to increase in 2013.

“The increase in purchase volumes will be driven by continued modest growth in the economy, an increase in owner-occupied sales financed with mortgages as opposed to cash purchases by investors, an increase in new home sales and a small increase in average home prices,” MBA’s chief economist Jay Brinkmann said in a statement. “This assumes that changes in the regulatory environment during 2013 are not unduly disruptive in terms of their constraints on available credit, and FHA and/or Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac do not notably tighten their credit policies.”

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