Mortgage rates increased slightly this week but remained near last summer’s 46-year lows, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.4 percent for the week ended today, up slightly from last week when it averaged 5.38 percent. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 4.7 percent, almost unchanged from last week when it averaged 4.69 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.7.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.36 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from 3.39 percent last week. This is, again, the lowest the one-year ARM has been since Freddie Mac began tracking those figures in January 1984.

“Low mortgage rates continue to fuel the housing market, making home ownership more attainable to a broader segment of families,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. “As evidence of this, we have seen mortgage applications rise for the last two months and home sales have picked up speed. And with the weather getting better, we should see housing sales strengthen even more in the near term.

“As long as general inflation remains in check, we expect mortgage rates will stay in their current range, and that will leave open the window of opportunity for refinancers and potential home buyers.”

Mortgage rates inched upward this week but remain squarely in refinancing territory. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 5.41 percent to 5.46 percent, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders. Mortgage rates are still close to the 46-year low of 5.28 percent established on June 11, 2003. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.37 discount and origination points.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing nosed up from 4.73 percent to 4.75 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed three basis points to 5.66 percent and the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage increased five basis points to 3.47 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

Just as lingering job market concerns have been a significant factor in rates moving lower, the job market may be what ultimately pushes rates higher. When the long-awaited improvement in the job market begins to materialize, investors are likely to begin selling long-term government bonds, causing bond yields and mortgage rates to rise. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds. However, the uncertainty about when the job market will improve is keeping a lid on mortgage rates for now.

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

New York – 5.49 percent with 0.05 point

Los Angeles – 5.44 percent with 0.69 point

Chicago – 5.5 percent with 0.14 point

San Francisco – 5.48 percent with 0.45 point

Philadelphia – 5.47 percent with 0.16 point

Detroit – 5.31 percent with 0.48 point

Boston – 5.55 percent with 0.03 point

Houston – 5.47 percent with 0.61 point

Dallas – 5.45 percent with 0.64 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.41 percent with 0.45 point

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