U.S. mortgage rates fell for a second straight week, dropping closer to the lowest on record.

The average for a 30-year loan was 2.94 per cent, down from 2.96 per cent last week and the lowest since Feb. 18, Freddie Mac data showed Thursday.

The 30-year average, which hit a record low of 2.65 per cent in early January, had climbed above 3 per cent this year amid optimism about an economic rebound from the pandemic. Now, rates have been below that benchmark for the past four weeks.

Cheap loans have fueled the past year’s rally in home purchases and given Americans more buying power even as bidding wars push up prices. The latest decline also provides current borrowers with another window to lower their monthly payments by refinancing.