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Average rate on 30-year mortgage dips

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged slightly lower this week after rising for three straight weeks.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked down to 3.84 percent this week from 3.85 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.05 percent from 3.07 percent.

Last week both rates reached their highest level since mid-March, rising along with the yield on 10-year Treasury notes — reflecting some signs of improvement in the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate dropped last month to 5.4 percent, the lowest since May 2008.

Still, mortgage rates remain low by historic standards. A year ago, the 30-year rate was 4.14 percent and the 15-year was 3.25 percent.

A separate report out Thursday showed that sales of existing U.S. homes slipped in April due to relatively few listings and rising prices, a trend that could weigh on the recovering housing market. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes fell 3.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million.