Mortgage rates gained this week on investor speculation that the Federal Reserve will have to raise its target interest rate again to keep up with inflation, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to an average 6.37 percent, up from last week when it averaged 6.3 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate loan climbed to 6.06 percent from 5.98 percent last week.
Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.5 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 6.1 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from 6 percent last week. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.56 percent this week with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.46 percent.
“Renewed concern that inflation is still an issue put some upward pressure on bond yields, which generally translates into higher interest and mortgage rates,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “ARM rates especially felt the weight of increased inflation fears, narrowing the gap between ARMs and fixed-rate mortgage rates. Thus, ARMs may become less desirable.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates rose this week following investors’ concerns of inflation. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose this week to 6.42 percent, up from 6.31 percent, and these loans had an average of 0.32 discount and origination points.
The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular for refinancing, jumped to 6.11 percent, up from 6 percent last week, according to Bankrate.com. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate climbed to 6.68 percent from 6.57 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages increased, as well, with the average 5/1 ARM rising to 6.23 percent from 6.06 percent and the average one-year ARM inching up to 5.9 percent from 5.88 percent.
Bankrate.com said that until recently, there had been a lot of speculation on Wall Street that the Federal Open Market Committee would reduce the federal funds rate sometime in 2007 — maybe in the first half of the year. Investors and economists figured that a rate cut in 2007 was possible because the economy is slowing, led by falling house sales and a dwindling pace of residential construction. However, Fed officials have implied in the past week and a half that another rate increase is more likely than a decrease, according to Bankrate.com.
Investors took notice of the Fed bankers’ warnings, Bankrate.com reported, as their caution about inflation — and implicit warnings that a Fed rate cut is unlikely to happen soon — caused bond yields to rise, with mortgage rates following.
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 – 6.39 percent with 0.09 point
Los Angeles – 6.45 percent with 0.5 point
Chicago – 6.58 percent with 0.06 point
San Francisco – 6.48 percent with 0.29 point
Philadelphia – 6.38 percent with 0.41 point
Detroit – 6.52 percent with no points
Boston – 6.43 percent with 0.15 point
Houston – 6.36 percent with 0.57 point
Dallas – 6.38 percent with 0.5 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.25 percent with 0.6 point