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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mortgage rates around the country edged down this week for the third week in a row.

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 7.11 percent, down from 7.14 percent last week, according to a nationwide survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, fell to 6.65 percent this week, compared with 6.70 percent the previous week.

At the same time last year, rates for 30-year mortgages averaged 8.14 percent and rates for 15-year mortgages averaged 7.85 percent.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.74 percent, down from 5.82 percent the week before. Last year, one-year ARMs stood at 7.22 percent.

These rates do not include add-on fees known as points, which averaged around 1 percent of the loan amount for all three types of mortgages.

``Continuing low mortgage rates are contributing to a healthy economic outlook for housing in the coming months,'' said Frank Nothaft, a Freddie Mac economist.

While other parts of the economy have been hurt by the economic slowdown, the housing market has held up well as low mortgage rates have attracted homebuyers.