(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Mortgage rates moved lower for the fourth week in a row as investors grew anxious about North Korea, Hurricane Harvey and the looming federal debt ceiling.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average tumbled to 3.82 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.86 percent a week ago and 3.46 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.12 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.16 percent a week ago and 2.77 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average slid to 3.14 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.17 percent a week ago and 2.83 percent a year ago.

“Rates remained low last week as tension between North Korea and the global community continued to mount, fueling a flight to quality and keeping investors in safer U.S. Treasuries,” said Joel Kan, MBA economist. “Mortgage rates generally fell, but not as low as they had in 2016.”

On Tuesday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.13 percent, its lowest level since the day after the presidential election in November. Concerns over North Korea’s latest missile test, worries about Hurricane Harvey’s impact on economic growth and anxiety over the federal government running out of money led investors to flee to the safety of long-term bonds. That’s driven prices up and yields down. Because mortgage rates tend to follow the same path as bond yields, home loan rates have steadily fallen.

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found the experts it surveyed were almost evenly split between rates falling or remaining unchanged in the coming week. Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, is one who expects rates to continue to fall.

“Between worries about the impact of Hurricane Harvey, to renewed tensions with North Korea and the looming debt ceiling battle, investors have plenty to be skittish about,” McBride said. “We’re seeing this in the form of lower mortgage rates.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications dwindled last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 2.3 percent. The refinance index fell 2 percent, while the purchase index dropped 3 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 49.4 percent of all applications.

“Purchase activity remains stronger in 2017 relative to 2016, but it has also been declining since peaking in June,” Kan said. “This was supported by weak results in the July home sales data from Census and the NAR. The refinance index decreased 2 percent over the week to its lowest level in a month. Applications for home purchase loans decreased 2.7 percent for the week but remained 4.5 percent higher than the same week a year ago.”

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