point, to 8.15% this week, from last week's average of 7.89%, according to Freddie Mac.

The rate has not been this high since the week that ended April 18, 1997, when it averaged 8.16%. A year ago, the average was 6.91%.

Douglas Duncan, senior economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said interest rates have caused lenders' business to be off substantially.

The group reported that loan applications were down 4.1% for the week that ended Aug. 6, and the index of loans for home purchase was down 5%.

The market is clearly nervous and people are watching the Fed daily, trying to read what it's going to do, Mr. Duncan said. We had forecasted a 7.3% average interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgages for the year, but are redoing that in light of recent events.

The average for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also rose, to 7.7%, from 7.45%. A year earlier the average was 6.6%; it also has not been this high since the week that ended April 18, 1997, when it averaged 7.71%. --

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