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Washington — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week to their highest level so far this year as new data showed strength in the housing market.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.87 percent from 3.84 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 3.11 percent from 3.05 percent.

Rates have risen in recent weeks amid signs of improvement in the economy.

A government report issued Tuesday showed that more Americans bought new homes in April, evidence that the stronger job market is propelling the housing market. New-home sales climbed 6.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 517,000.

Rising demand has created a supply crunch, and the limited inventory has pushed up prices.

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