New applications for U.S. home loans rose last week along with mortgage refinancings as 30-year mortgage rates eased to their lowest levels in six months, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (search) said its seasonally adjusted market index, a measure of mortgage activity, rose by 4.9 percent to 724.7 for the week ended on Sept 24 from the previous week's 690.7.

Thirty-year mortgage rates (search), excluding fees, averaged 5.64 percent, down 0.02 percentage point from the previous week and down 0.03 percentage point from a year ago, the Washington trade group said.

The association's purchase index, a gauge of new loan requests for home purchases, rose last week by 2.7 percent to 469.1 from 456.6 in the prior week.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index on new refinancing applications rose by 7.7 percent to 2,211.1 for last week from the previous week's 2,052.5.