Long-term US mortgage rates fall for first time this year

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Long-term US mortgage rates fall for first time this year
In this Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, photo a for sale sign stands in front of a house, in Walpole, Mass. Freddie Mac reports on the week's average U.S. mortgage rates on Thursday, March 15. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for the first time this year as the spring home buying season begins. The decline comes after nine straight weeks of increases that pushed borrowing costs higher.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 4.44 percent from 4.46 percent last week. The new average rate remains at a high level, however, raising concern that home sales could be dampened. The benchmark rate averaged 4.30 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans declined to 3.90 percent from 3.94 percent last week.