Nov. 27 - U.S. mortgage activity dipped in a fourth weekly decline, but an upturn in refinancings could give homeowners extra cash in time for the holidays.
Demand for home loans - yet to see an upturn, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group's weekly index sliding for the fourth week in a row and is down seven percent for that period. But refinancings were up just a bit, which means there's some homeowners out there who will have some extra money in their pockets - just in time to go holiday shopping. Though interest rates creep higher towards the 4-1/2 percent mark, according to the MBA, recent data suggests rising rates are not damaging demand as much as earlier feared. Home prices climbed through September at their fastest pace since February 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index. And in a bid to meet expected demand, permits for new home construction hit near a 5-1/2 year high last month. Housing has been a pillar of economic strength this year, and there's hope things will hold up through years end, especially with growing uncertainty of just how much consumers will spend as the gift buying season kicks off.