WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages ticked up from record lows last week. Cheaper mortgages are fueling a modest housing recovery that could help the broader economy.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.39 percent from 3.36 percent. The previous week's rate was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage edged up to 2.70 percent, from last week's record low of 2.69 percent.

Rates have been below 4 percent all year. They've fallen even further since the Federal Reserve started buying mortgage bonds in September to encourage more borrowing and spending.

When home prices rise, people tend to feel wealthier and spend more freely. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity.

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