WASHINGTON - - Mortgage applications rose to the highest level since July as demand to refinance existing loans climbed, a private report showed.
The Mortgage Bankers Association's applications index increased 1.5 percent to 772.2 in the week that ended Sept. 16 from the previous week, the group reported.
Applications for loans to refinance mortgages rose 7 percent to 2,353.7 from 2,198.7 the previous week. Applications to purchase homes, the other component of the index, fell.
Sales of new and existing homes will probably reach a record this year, economists said. U.S. housing starts fell 1.3 percent in August, the Commerce Department reported last week. The annual rate of slightly over 2 million units keeps housing starts on pace to be the highest since 1973.
Applications to purchase homes fell 2.6 percent to 500.3.