Purchase applications for home mortgages fell by a seasonally adjusted 1 percent in the December 8 week, while applications for refinancing declined 3 percent. Unadjusted, the purchase index fell 6 percent in the week, putting it 10 percent above the level in the same week a year ago. The refinancing share of mortgage activity rose 0.8 percentage points to 52.4 percent, the highest level since January. Mortgage rates rose marginally in the week, with the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages ($424,100 or less) up 1 basis point to 4.20 percent. The minor negative of the first weekly purchase applications decline in 6 weeks is more than offset by the 2.0 percentage point rise in the year-on-year gain to an impressive 10 percent, further evidence that home buyers are very active and confirming other reports of robust strength in the housing market during the fourth quarter.