Mortgage rates rose for the fourth consecutive week, fueled by higher retail sales and inflation fears, according to surveys conducted this week by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.28 percent for the week ended today, up from last week’s average of 6.24 percent. The average for the 15-year fixed is 5.91 percent, up from last week’s average of 5.83 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.5.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 5.95 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.89 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.36 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.34 percent.

“So far this year, fixed-rate mortgage rates have risen only slightly,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Long-term mortgage rates are only marginally higher than they were two months ago. 

“Housing start figures in January came in at the highest level in over three decades, due in part to the combination of low rates and a warmer climate across the country.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, both fixed and adjustable mortgage rates increased for the fourth straight week. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 6.32 percent to 6.37 percent, and had an average of 0.37 discount and origination points.

Bankrate.com reported that the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate climbed from 5.95 percent to 6.02 percent, while the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate rose to 6.58 percent from 6.51 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages increased at a similar pace, with the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rising above the 6 percent mark to 6.05 percent, and the average one-year adjustable-rate mortgage moving from 5.63 percent to 5.69 percent.

The fourth consecutive weekly increase puts fixed mortgage rates at a two-month high, according to Bankrate.com. But adjustable mortgage rates are now at the highest point in more than four years. Strong retail sales during January coupled with continued concerns about inflation helped push mortgage rates higher. Bond investors were nervous ahead of new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s inaugural Congressional testimony, fearing that Bernanke would hint at additional Fed interest-rate hikes to keep inflation under wraps. Bond yields increased, as did mortgage rates, which are closely related to yields on government bonds.

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

New York – 6.34 percent with 0.23 point

Los Angeles – 6.4 percent with 0.46 point

Chicago – 6.53 percent with 0.05 point

San Francisco – 6.45 percent with 0.27 point

Philadelphia – 6.27 percent with 0.39 point

Detroit – 6.41 percent with no points

Boston – 6.39 percent with 0.18 point

Houston – 6.38 percent with 0.7 point

Dallas – 6.4 percent with 0.59 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.18 percent with 0.85 point

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