WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates marked their third week of declines this week, after snapping a nine-week run of increases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans fell to an average 4.09 percent from 4.12 percent last week. That was still sharply higher than a 30-year rate that averaged 3.65 percent for all of 2016, the lowest level recorded from records going back to 1971. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.81 percent.

The average for a 15-year mortgage declined to 3.34 percent from 3.37 percent last week.