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Washington — Average U.S. mortgage rates started the year by dipping to new lows, with the benchmark 30-year rate marking its lowest level since May 2013.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.73 percent this week from 3.87 percent last week.

The average for a 15-year mortgage slid to 3.05 percent from 3.15 percent last week.

A year ago, the 30-year mortgage stood at 4.51 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.56 percent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, which were meant to keep long-term rates low.

The decline in mortgage rates also has come as bond yields have hit record low levels.

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