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    Mortgage rates near record lows

    WASHINGTON — Average rates on fixed mortgages fell this week to near record lows, providing more incentive for Americans to buy homes and refinance.

    Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 3.32 percent, below last week’s 3.34 percent but just above the 3.31 percent record low on records dating to 1971.

    The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage declined to 2.66 percent, from 2.67 percent last week. The record low is 2.63 percent.


    The rate on the 30-year loan has remained below 4 percent all year.

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    Lower mortgage rates have persuaded more people to refinance. That typically leads to lower monthly mortgage payments and more spending. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity.

    But many people are unable to take advantage of the low rates, either because they can’t qualify for stricter lending rules or they lack money for down payments.