Refinance activity pushed mortgage applications up 5.0% last week from the week before on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. Purchase-only mortgage applications were down 1.9% on an adjusted basis; unadjusted, they were up 3.1% but still 16% below the same week a year ago.

The Refinance Index increased 7.7%, the third consecutive weekly increase and the highest that index has been since the beginning of December.

"Mortgage rates have moved somewhat lower since the beginning of the year, as mixed data on the job market continue to cloud the outlook for the economy," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics. "Refinance applications have picked up, as borrowers take advantage of lower rates, but purchase applications remain quite low, indicating that home sales are unlikely to pick up any time soon."

The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is up 1.4%. The four week moving average is down 0.8% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is up 2.3% for the Refinance Index.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 73.0% of total applications from 72.1% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage(ARM) share of activity increased to 5.0% from 4.9% the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.77% from 4.78%, with points increasing to 1.20 from 0.91. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.16% from 4.15%, with points decreasing to 0.90 from 1.01.