WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages changed little this week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average for the 30-year loan declined to 4.39 percent from 4.41 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan eased to 3.44 percent from 3.45 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago. The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. The Fed determined last month that the economy was strong enough to start trimming the purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low.

The rise in mortgage rates and higher home prices slowed sales of existing homes, which have fallen for three straight months.


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