U.S. mortgage applications fell last week, reflecting lower demand for home refinancing, as interest rates on long-term loans surged to a near four-year high, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity for the week ended March 10 decreased 0.2 percent to 574.4 from the previous week's 575.6.

Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 6.42 percent, up 0.11 percentage point from the previous week, its highest level since the week ended July 5, 2002, when it reached 6.46 percent.

The group's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications decreased 1.9 percent to 1,583.6 compared to 1,614.4 the previous week.

The MBA's seasonally adjusted purchase mortgage index rose 1.0 percent to 403.0 from the previous week's 399.0. The index was also below its year-ago level of 462.8.

The purchase index is considered a timely gauge on U.S. home sales.

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