WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mortgage rates around the country edged down this week, a dose of good news for people thinking about buying a home.

For the week ending Oct. 31, the average rate on 30-year mortgages dipped to 5.94 percent, down from 6.05 percent the previous week, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported Thursday in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates.

Rates on 30-year mortgages have bounced up and down since the middle of June when they slid to 5.21 percent, the lowest level in more than four decades.

``Fear of inflation is still unwarranted. And, that should keep mortgage rates from rising too quickly or steeply anytime in the near future,'' said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

For 15-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates declined to 5.26 percent, from 5.39 percent last week. Rates for one-year adjustable mortgages averaged 3.74 percent, down slightly from last week's 3.76 percent.

Even with the recent gyration in mortgage rates, home sales are expected to set new record highs this year. And, home-mortgage refinancing activity remains healthy.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of America reported that refinancing activity accounted for 53.3 percent of all mortgage applications filed last week, up from 50.5 percent in the previous week.

``The ARM share of applications is at its highest point in over two and a half years,'' said the association's manager of member services Michael Cevarr. Adjustable-rate mortgages accounted for 26.5 percent of all mortgage applications filed last week.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year and 15-year mortgages each carried an average fee of 0.6 point, while one-year ARMs carried an average fee of 0.7 point this week.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 6.13 percent, 15-year mortgages were 5.51 percent and one-year adjustable mortgages stood at 4.25 percent.

__

On the Net:

Freddie Mac: http://www.freddiemac.com