The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell for the fifth consecutive week, to 6.94%, from 7.04% the previous week, mortgage company Freddie Mac said. This week's decline was the sharpest in six months and brought the average more than a quarter-point below the 5 1/2-month high of 7.22% reached at the end of April. That's the lowest level since the rate hit a four-year low of 6.89% in mid-January. Mortgage rates have followed a drop in yields on U.S. Treasury securities as a new round of turmoil in Asia have sent overseas investors in search of the relative safety of government-guaranteed bonds. Mortgage applications last week were 69% higher than a year ago, the Mortgage Bankers Assn. of America said.