Mortgage rates this week inched slightly higher on news the economy may be on a swift rebound, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.68 percent for the week ended today, up slightly from 5.64 percent last week.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 4.97 percent, up very slightly from last week’s average of 4.95 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.7.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.59 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up very slightly from 3.56 percent last week.

“Mortgage rates were basically unchanged leading up to the FOMC’s announcement that opened the door to the possibility the Fed would raise rates sooner than expected,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Following the policy statement, bond yields shot up, taking mortgage rates with them, and raising the prospect that mortgage rates will be even higher next week.

“However, even at higher levels next week, mortgage rates remain incredibly low and affordable and shouldn’t starve off the demand for housing in 2004. The real estate market, although slowing from last year’s blockbuster pace, will continue to be robust this year.”

In’s weekly national survey of large lenders, mortgage rates increased slightly on speculation about this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting and the future course of interest rates.

The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed to 5.72 percent from 5.67 percent, according to Bankrate. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.34 discount and origination points.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage popular for refinancing rebounded above the 5 percent barrier, rising from 4.99 percent to 5.02 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed 2 basis points to 5.95 percent, and the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 3.65 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

Speculation about the timing of future interest-rate hikes leading up to the FOMC meeting Jan. 27-28 caused mortgage rates to eke out a small increase.

Speculation continued following the Jan. 28 Fed announcement, which no longer contained the highly scrutinized “for a considerable period” phrase. The prospect of interest-rate hikes makes bond investors nervous, with money often flowing out of the longest-term bonds. Mortgage rates are closely related to the yields on long-term government bonds. The change in the Fed’s wording was enough to spook the bond investors. In the minutes following the Fed announcement, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note spiked upward from about 4.06 percent to about 4.18 percent.

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 no points

Los Angeles – 5.67 percent with 0.68 point

Chicago – 5.81 percent with 0.09 point

San Francisco – 5.79 percent with 0.27 point

Philadelphia – 5.73 percent with 0.11 point

Detroit – 5.59 percent with 0.46 point

Boston – 5.8 percent with no points

Houston – 5.68 percent with 0.6 point

Dallas – 5.69 percent with 0.61 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.65 percent with 0.54 point


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