Mortgage rates nudged up this week, while financial markets await tomorrow’s February employment report, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.59 percent for the week ended today, nearly unchanged from last week when it averaged 5.58 percent.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 4.88 percent, almost unchanged from last week’s average of 4.89 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.7.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.47 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.5 percent last week. This is the lowest the one-year ARM has been since the week ended June 27, 2003, when it averaged 3.45 percent.

“Despite strong signs of economic growth, the financial markets were nonplussed, leaving mortgage rates to hover around the same affordable level for yet another week,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist.

“Employment figures for February are due out tomorrow. The expectation is that over 100,000 much needed jobs will have been created last month, and that will help sustain economic growth. As the economy becomes stronger, there is every expectation that mortgage rates may begin to drift slowly upward,” added Nothaft.

Mortgage rates drifted a bit higher in mostly calm economic water this week, but they remain solidly in the zone where refinancing remains attractive, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 5.6 percent to 5.64 percent. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.36 discount and origination points.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing ticked higher, from 4.92 percent to 4.95 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage moved up 2 basis points to 5.8 percent, while the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage climbed 3 basis points to 3.58 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

The mortgage and Treasury markets likely will remain becalmed until the jobless recovery sheds its “jobless” tag. When job creation begins, that development might herald inflation. Bond yields and mortgage rates often rise when the economy grows quickly, as investors fear a similar increase in inflation. Mortgage rates are closely tied to the yields on long-term government bonds. A strengthening dollar also could boost yields and rates because foreign banks would buy fewer Treasury bonds, sending prices down and yields up.

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

New York – 5.7 percent with 0.05 point

Los Angeles – 5.59 percent with 0.63 point

Chicago – 5.72 percent with 0.13 point

San Francisco – 5.66 percent with 0.43 point

Philadelphia – 5.67 percent with 0.14 point

Detroit – 5.53 percent with 0.46 point

Boston – 5.75 percent with 0.03 point

Houston – 5.6 percent with 0.63 point

Dallas – 5.6 percent with 0.58 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.6 percent with 0.48 point

***

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