Mortgage applications rose a seasonally adjusted 1.5% the week before last because of a bump in loans sought for home purchases, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

The volume of mortgage applications filed for the week that ended Nov. 21 sank 21.9% compared with the same week in 2007, according to the MBA's weekly survey. It covers about one half of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications. Applications for mortgages to buy homes rose a seasonally adjusted 5.3% on a week-to-week basis, while refinancing applications fell 2.1%.

The MBA's Government Purchase Index, made up mostly of applications for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, rose 8.5%. Applications for conventional mortgages were up 3.8%.

Underscoring the choppy nature of the home loan market, the MBA's four-week moving average for all mortgages was down 4.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Refinancings the week before last made up 49.3% of all mortgage activity, down from 49.9% the previous week, with adjustable-rate mortgages accounting for 3%, up from 2.6%.

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