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MORTGAGES

Rate on 30-year loans drops to record 3.89%

Fixed mortgage rates fell once again to a record low, offering a great opportunity for those who can afford to buy or refinance homes. But few are able to take advantage of the historic rates.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.89 percent. That’s below the previous record of 3.91 percent reached three weeks ago.

Records for mortgage rates date back to the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage ticked down to 3.16 percent. That’s down from a record 3.21 percent three weeks ago.

Mortgage rates are lower because they track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell below 2 percent. They could fall even lower this year if the Fed launches another round of bond purchases, as some economists expect.

Average fixed mortgage rates hovered around 4 percent at the end of 2011.

NEW YORK

KeyBank agrees to buy 37 upstate HSBC branches

BUFFALO | First Niagara Bank has agreed to sell 37 HSBC branches to KeyBank as part of its purchase of HSBC’s entire upstate New York retail network, the banks announced Thursday.

Cleveland-based KeyBank will pay First Niagara a deposit premium of about $110 million, or just less than 5 percent, for the branches in Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties.

The purchase includes all 26 of the HSBC branches that First Niagara promised to divest in a November agreement with the Justice Department to satisfy antitrust concerns.