Mortgage rates this week grew to highs not seen since last August on news of stronger economic conditions and rising inflation risk, Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com reported today.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to an average 6.53 percent from 6.42 percent a week ago, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 6.12 percent to 6.22 percent. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

“Mortgage rates climbed this week owing to market concerns of a tight labor force and wage growth. May’s unemployment rate remained at the second-lowest level since May 2001, while average hourly earnings rose,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “Additionally, unit labor costs increased 1.8 percent over the first three months of the year, tripling the original estimate, and fueling inflation fears.”

Borrowing costs on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) picked up this week, with the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM growing from 6.19 percent to 6.24 percent and the one-year ARM rising from 5.57 percent to 5.65 percent. Points on these loans averaged 0.6 and 0.7, respectively.

Nothaft said that a Freddie Mac index released this week that tracks home prices showed a “sharp deceleration” in price growth during the first quarter. “As house prices grow less quickly and household incomes rise, the housing market will likely recover from its current slump, but perhaps not before the end of this year,” he said.

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates increased for the sixth consecutive week, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate hitting a 10-month high of 6.61 percent. Discount and origination points on these loans averaged 0.26.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular for refinancing, increased by a similar amount, to 6.33 percent, according to Bankrate.com. With larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate climbed to 6.86 percent, and adjustable-rate mortgages gained as well, with the average one-year ARM rising to 6.17 percent and the 5/1 ARM jumping to 6.52 percent.

Mortgage rates continue to climb as strong economic data and the words of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made it clear that lower interest rates are not in the forecast, Bankrate.com reported. A strong employment report, coupled with upbeat readings on both the manufacturing and service sectors, showed the economy isn’t in need of an interest-rate cut and were enough to raise inflation concerns. Bernanke reiterated that inflation remains the Fed’s primary focus. As a result, yields on 10-year Treasury notes approached the 5 percent mark, taking mortgage rates higher as well.

Bankrate.com said fixed mortgage rates have increased nearly one-half percentage point since mid-March. At the time, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.16 percent, meaning that a $165,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,006. With the average 30-year fixed rate now 6.61 percent, the same loan originated today would carry a monthly payment of $1,055.

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 – 6.61 percent with 0.06 point

Los Angeles – 6.68 percent with 0.43 point

Chicago – 6.68 percent with 0.06 point

San Francisco – 6.55 percent with 0.54 point

Philadelphia – 6.68 percent with 0.11 point

Detroit – 6.61 percent with 0.01 point

Boston – 6.66 percent with 0.03 point

Houston – 6.61 percent with 0.46 point

Dallas – 6.54 percent with 0.48 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.51 percent with 0.41 point

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