NEW YORK - Mortgage applications decreased 2.4% in the week ended March 9, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

The refinance index dropped 4.1%, while the seasonally adjusted purchase index rose 4.4%.

The four-week moving average for the seasonally adjusted market index fell 2.12%. The four-week seasonally adjusted purchase index moving average rose 2.92%, while this average slid 3.29% for the refinance index.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 75.1% of applications from 77.0% the previous week, while adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) grew to 5.8% of applications from 5.4% the week before.

"Applications for home purchase increased again last week, coinciding with another strong job market report. Purchase applications are now almost 12 percent above the level one month ago, even after adjusting for typical seasonal patterns. However, this level of purchase activity, adjusted or unadjusted, was essentially unchanged when compared to the same time last year. Purchase activity remains subdued and within the narrow range we have seen since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit in 2010," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics. "Refinance application volume fell last week. Although rates were unchanged on average, they trended up through the course of the week, and this likely discouraged many potential refinance applicants. HARP volume continued to grow as a share of total refinance volume, reaching roughly 30 percent of refinance activity in the last two weeks.  Typical HARP loans had loan-to-value ratios above 90 percent, indicating that lenders are reaching out to underwater borrowers."

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) remained at 4.06%.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages remained at 3.36%.

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