WASHINGTON - Mortgage delinquencies nationwide fell 10 basis points, to 3.72%, during the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

It was the sixth consecutive quarterly drop in the mortgage delinquency rate. It has fallen 71 basis points since the first quarter of 1998 and is now at its lowest level since registering 3.49% in the second quarter of 1972.

The mortgage bankers group said the volume of mortgage applications rose 4.3% in the week ended Friday from the week before. Refinancings represented 14.6% of the week's applications, up 0.3 percentage point from the week before.

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