Purchase applications for home mortgages rose by a seasonally adjusted 2 percent in the December 1 week, while the more volatile applications for refinancing increased by 9 percent. Without seasonal and the prior week's Thanksgiving holiday adjustments, the Purchase Index increased 38 percent and was 8 percent higher than in the same week a year ago. The refinancing share of mortgage activity rose 2.9 percentage points to 51.6 percent, the largest share since September. Mortgage rates edged lower, with the average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages ($424,100 or less) down 1 basis point to 4.19 percent. The fifth consecutive weekly increase in purchase applications and the respectable and widening year-on-year gain shows home buyers active and offers further evidence of growing strength in the housing market during the fourth quarter.