Average 30-year US mortgage rate up to 4.37 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for a third straight week as new data showed a surprisingly strong pace of new-home sales last month. Rates still remain near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.37 percent from 4.33 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.39 percent from 3.35 percent.

The report Wednesday from the Commerce Department boosted expectations that the spring home buying season will be solid enough to lift the overall economy.

Sales of new homes rebounded in January to the fastest rate in more than five years. The strength in purchases followed a slowdown that had been linked to higher mortgage rates and severe winter weather.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.