Mortgage applications increased 7.4% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA’s barometer has now recovered nearly all of the early March plunge caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The MBA’s measure of mortgage applications includes both purchases and refinances. Purchase applications have been trending steadily higher since early April and are now just 1.7% below their level of a year ago. Refinance volume has been more volatile, but even that has recovered most of its early March drop.

The increase in overall mortgage applications last week was driven by a big jump in refinance applications, which rose 14%. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage continued to fall, reaching 3.73%, its lowest level since early September.

This week’s mortgage rate drop was spurred by the growing prospects for additional stimulus from Washington and by a cautious optimism that the virus-induced shutdown of the economy may be starting to ease.

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