US mortgage applications climbed last week for the first time since mid-November

even as interest rates rose to the highest level in more than two-and-a-half years.

Mortgage applications were up 2.5 per cent in the week to December 16, compared with a 4 per cent drop in the previous week and marking the first rise since November 18, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Applications for home purchases, as well as refinancing of existing mortgages, were up 2.7 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.

The advance came even as a key benchmark of mortgage interest rates ticked up to the highest level since May 2014. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances rose to 4.41 per cent, from 4.28 per cent.

Mortgage rates have jumped from as low as 3.6 per cent in July amid a rout in bonds that has sent yields zooming higher. That sell-off accelerated last week after the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark lending rate for only the second time since the end of the financial crisis and forecast three additional rate increases next year.

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