Here is what was at the top of the headlines for the mortgage industry this past week:

1. Mortgage Rates Modestly Lower but Remain Near Recent Highs

Mortgage rates edged just barely lower today, but remain close to the recent highs seen on Wednesday.  Along with November 12th, these 3 days contain the highest rates since the September 18th FOMC Announcement where the Fed held off on reducing asset purchases.  On a positive note, despite the two month highs, they’re not far off from most of the recent activity.  Today’s most prevalent rate quotes are going out between 4.375% and 4.5% for top tier scenarios, whereas most of the recent activity was 4.25%-4.375%.   Many lenders are closed today or are otherwise not issuing new rate sheets.


2. Housing Sector Shows Signs of Strength

Housing permits surged in October to their highest level in more than five years, driven by strong demand for multi-family buildings such as apartments and condos, a sign U.S. home construction could gain traction as the year ends.


3. Mortgage Applications Hit 4 Week Skid

Applications for U.S. home loans dipped in the latest week, dropping for a fourth straight week, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 0.3 percent in the week ended Nov. 22. The index has fallen 7 percent over the past four weeks, dropping as investors have speculated on when the U.S. Federal Reserve might pull back on its bond-buying program.

But data on the world’s biggest economy have been mixed, leaving investors uncertain about the future path of U.S. monetary policy. MBA data showed 30-year mortgage rates edged up 2 basis points in the latest week to 4.48 percent. The refinancing index rose 0.1 percent while the purchase index, a leading indicator of home sales, fell 0.2 percent. The mortgage survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.