Long-term mortgage interest rates dipped slightly this week, as markets awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s testimony on current economic conditions, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.66 percent for the week ended today, down from 5.72 percent last week. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 4.96 percent, down from last week’s average of 5.03 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.7.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.57 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.61 percent last week.

“Markets remained tame while waiting for Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan’s semi-annual testimony to House members about the state of the economy,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist.

“Greenspan led the markets to believe that the Fed’s actions would be on hold until there was more than sufficient growth in the economy to warrant a change in monetary policy. In other words, there is still enough slack in the economy to leave rates at their current accommodative level for some months to come.

“As a result, mortgage rates not only experienced no upward pressure this week, rates even eased slightly. And since we don’t see mortgage rates rising to more than about 6.25 percent at best this year we expect housing will continue to contribute significantly to consumer spending, which is the largest element of the national economy.”

Mortgage rates inched lower by a narrow margin, one week after remaining unchanged, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped from 5.72 percent to 5.71 percent. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.4 discount and origination points.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing reversed last week’s move, falling from 5.05 percent to 5.02 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined 4 basis points to 5.92 percent, while the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage increased for the second consecutive week, rising 2 basis points to 3.7 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

Low inflation, slower than expected job growth and continued purchases of Treasury securities by foreign central banks amid the dollar’s decline are keeping long-term bond yields and mortgage rates low, even as the economy strengthens. Mortgage rates are closely related to the yields on long-term government bonds.

“Any notable increase in mortgage rates awaits a similarly notable increase in job growth, and is unlikely to materialize soon,” said Bankrate senior financial analyst Greg McBride.

The following is a sampling of Bankrate’s average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas.

New York – 5.79 percent with 0.08 point

Los Angeles – 5.66 percent with 0.71 point

Chicago – 5.82 percent with 0.14 point

San Francisco – 5.74 percent with 0.48 point

Philadelphia – 5.72 percent with 0.27 point

Detroit – 5.62 percent with 0.5 point

Boston – 5.81 percent with 0.01 point

Houston – 5.66 percent with 0.63 point

Dallas – 5.65 percent with 0.64 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.65 percent with 0.56 point


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