(Bloomberg) -- US mortgage rates edged down to a six-week low of 6.45%, helping drive a fourth-straight advance in applications to buy a home.

The contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage eased 3 basis points in the week ended March 24, Mortgage Bankers Association data showed Wednesday. The group’s index of mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 2% to 172.7.

Despite the latest decline, mortgage rates are about 2 percentage points higher than they were a year ago after a series of Federal Reserve rate increases. Treasury yields have stabilized over the past couple weeks after sliding in the wake of several bank closures.   

The MBA’s index of refinancing applications also rose for a fourth week, to the highest level since September. The overall gauge of mortgage applications advanced to an almost one-month high.

The MBA survey, which has been conducted weekly since 1990, uses responses from mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. The data cover more than 75% of all retail residential mortgage applications in the US.

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