Posting the first increase in 6 weeks, purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 3 percent in the August 17 week. Unadjusted, purchase applications were up 1 percent from the prior week and back up in positive year-on-year territory, standing 1 percent above the level last year at this time. Applications for refinancing rose 6 percent from the previous week, with the refinance share of mortgage activity increasing by 1.1 percentage points to 38.7 percent. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed rate conforming mortgages ($453,100 or less) remained unchanged from the previous week at 4.81 percent. Though mortgage rates have not moved higher since May, they are still up about 70 basis points year-on-year, keeping home ownership affordability at a lower level than last year and weakening the housing market. Later this morning, the release of existing home sales data for July will provide additional insight into housing market strength or lack thereof. In June, existing home sales were down 0.6 percent from May and 2.2 percent lower than a year ago.