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Average US rate on 30-year loan falls to 3.39%

WASHINGTON — The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage slipped this week and stayed near its record low, a trend that has helped boost home sales and refinancing.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate declined to 3.39 percent, from 3.41 percent last week. Four weeks ago, it touched 3.36 percent, the lowest on ­records dating to 1971.

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The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, often used for refinancing, fell to 2.70 percent. That’ was down from 2.72 percent last week.

Home sales have increased from last year, and prices are rising more consistently in most areas. Builders are more confident and beginning work on more homes. Lower rates have also persuaded more people to refinance. That typically leads to lower monthly mortgage payments and more spending.

Still, the housing market has a long way to a full recovery. And many people are unable to take advantage of the low rates, because they cannot qualify for stricter lending rules or lack funds to meet larger down payments.

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