After ascending from a 30-year low to a five-year high in 17 months, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage began retreating steadily at the end of May, prompting an uptick in lending volume and cautious optimism in the beleaguered business.

Noting economic data that suggest the Federal Open Market Committee may soon cease raising short-term rates, lenders said the rising-rate cycle appears to be ending without having put much of a dent in housing demand. What it did do, though, was cut into mortgage refinancing volume and hasten consolidation in the home loan industry.

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