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Average US rate on 30-year mortgage at 4.16 pct.

WASHINGTON — Average rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly last week but stayed near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average on the 30-year loan rose to 4.16 percent from 4.10 percent, which was the lowest in four months. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.27 percent from 3.20 percent.

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Rates have been falling since September, when the Federal Reserve surprised investors by continuing to buy $85 billion a month in bonds. The purchases are intended to keep interest rates low. The recent drop in mortgage rates could help boost home sales, which slowed in September after rates reached their highest averages in two years.

The decline in sales has also affected price gains. Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that a measure of US home prices rose only slightly in September from August, a sign that prices are leveling off after big gains earlier this year.

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