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US long-term mortgage rates little changed; 30-year at 2.93%

FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2019 file photo a sign rests in front of a newly constructed home, in Westwood, Mass. U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages changed little this week, remaining at historically low levels that has sparked demand for homes.  (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2019 file photo a sign rests in front of a newly constructed home, in Westwood, Mass. U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages changed little this week, remaining at historically low levels that has sparked demand for homes. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages changed little this week, remaining at historically low levels that has sparked demand for homes.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan ticked up to 2.93% from 2.91% last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.49% a year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined, however, to 2.42% from 2.46% last week.

Housing demand continues as one of few bright spots in the pandemic-hobbled economy. Sales of new homes soared in July, rising nearly 14% as the market continued to gain traction following the spring downturn caused by pandemic-forced lockdowns.

In the wider economy, the government reported Thursday that the number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week — evidence that the pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs.