30-year mortgage rate declines to 3.54 pct.

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:14 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 1:55 p.m. CDT

WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week and remained near historic lows, a trend that has supported a recovery in housing.

Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 3.54 percent from 3.63 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average rate on the 30-year loan has been below 4 percent now for a full year.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage slipped last week to 2.72 percent from 2.79 percent last week. The record low is 2.63 percent.

Low mortgage rates are spurring more home purchases and refinancing. That’s helped the broader economy. Increased sales are also pushing home prices higher.

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