Industry NewsMortgage

Tug of war over mortgage rates

Fed may launch new round of MBS purchases as lawmakers hike Fannie, Freddie fees

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The Federal Reserve may again exercise its power to drive down mortgage rates in order to stimulate the economy, but any savings for homebuyers may be at least partially offset by a new law that raises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's guarantee fees and diverts that money to the Treasury.A growing number of economists think that the Federal Reserve's worries about housing markets -- detailed in a white paper to Congress this month -- mean it will soon launch "QE3," a third round of quantitative easing.The Fed has put a lid on mortgage rates before, buying $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities to help bring rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans from above 6 percent in late 2008 to just under 5 percent by the time the program wound down in March 2010.Rates slid further in 2011 as fears about the European debt crisis made mortgage-backed securities -- bonds that fund most home loans -- popular with investors, pushing down yields.With mortgage rates hovering at or near record lows...