updated 10/4/2006 10:26:59 AM ET 2006-10-04T14:26:59

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that loan application volume increased strongly in the week ending Sept. 29, as did refinancings, as interest rates eased.

The trade association, based in Washington, D.C., said its market composite index, a measure of loan application volume, rose 11.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted 633.9 from a week earlier.

The refinance index increased 17.5 percent to 1970.8 from the previous week, while the purchase index rose 7.6 percent to 404.6.

"Refinance applications continue to increase as mortgage rates have declined to their lowest levels since the beginning of the year," Mike Fratantoni, MBA's senior director, said in a statement.

The study showed that the refi share of mortgage active was 46.7 percent of total applications, up from 44.3 percent the previous week. It was the highest share since February 2005, the association said.

The contract interest rate on 30 years fixed-rate mortgages was 6.24 percent, while the rate on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages was 5.86 percent, excluding points.

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