Mortgage applications climbed for the third consecutive week as a drop in interest rates spurred refinancing.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s applications index increased 0.9% in the period ended May 16 after a 3.6% gain the week before, the Washington-based group said today. The refinancing gauge jumped 3.8% to the highest level since the week ended March 14. The purchase-applications measure fell 2.8%.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed loan declined to 4.33% last week, the lowest since November, from 4.39% the prior week. The average on a 15-year mortgage fell to 3.43% from 3.48%.

The share of applicants seeking to refinance climbed to 52%, the highest level since March, from the prior week’s 50.3%, today’s report showed.

Bloomberg News