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Average US 30-year mortgage rate down to 4.32 pct.

Washington (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages declined last week, edging closer to historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.32 percent from 4.37 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.32 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago.

The increase was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Deeming the economy to be gaining strength, the Fed announced in December and January -- and again on Wednesday -- that it was reducing its monthly bond purchases.

 
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