Purchase applications for home mortgages, which have been trending flat to slightly lower, picked up a bit in the August 17 week with a 0.9 percent increase. Applications for refinancing, which have been very strong, fell a sizable 9.0 percent and are at their lowest level since early July. Still, mortgage bankers are very busy with refinancing work with the share of refinancing at 80 percent of all activity. Not stimulating demand for refinancing, nor for home purchases, is a sharp rise in rates during the week, up 10 basis points for conforming 30-year fixed mortgages ($417,500 or less) to 3.86 percent from the prior week's 3.76 percent. Watch for discussion of the housing outlook in this afternoon's FOMC minutes.