WASHINGTON (AP) - Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for a second straight week, edging closer to historically low levels at the start of the spring home-buying season.

WASHINGTON (AP) Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for a second straight week, edging closer to historically low levels at the start of the spring home-buying season.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.69 percent from 3.78 percent last week.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, eased to 2.97 percent from 3.06 percent last week.

A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.40 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.42 percent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, designed to hold down long-term rates.