Long-term mortgage interest rates moved higher for the first time in five weeks, fueled by a rise in consumer confidence, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.08 percent for the week ended today, up from last week when it averaged 5.98 percent.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 5.49 percent, up from last week when it averaged 5.39 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.6.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.17 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.12 percent.

“Mortgage rates rose a little this week in response to expectations that the Federal Reserve Board is willing to move more aggressively if inflation should become an issue,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “So far, inflation seems to be under control, but if the economy should heat up too rapidly, the Fed would have to act quickly and decisively.

Mortgage rates rebounded in Bankrate.com’s weekly survey of large lenders, with most of the gain happening Tuesday, after the Conference Board issued its monthly report on consumer confidence. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 6.06 percent – a three-month low – to 6.17 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.31 discount and origination points.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing rose 12 basis points to 5.59 percent. The average one-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose 4 basis points to 4.43 percent. The average rate for the jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed 6 basis points to 6.32 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

Mortgage rates had been held down in recent weeks by worse-than-expected economic reports. The consumer confidence numbers provided an antidote: They were better than expected and produced the highest consumer confidence reading since June 2002.

“The reality of higher interest rates will gradually push mortgage rates higher,” said Bankrate senior financial analyst Greg McBride. “Any improvement in economic performance or uptick in inflation would accelerate the trend.”

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

New York – 6.19 percent with 0.04 point

Los Angeles – 6.22 percent with 0.5 point

Chicago – 6.24 percent with 0.02 point

San Francisco – 6.23 percent with 0.28 point

Philadelphia – 6.12 percent with 0.31 point

Detroit – 6.09 percent with 0.25 point

Boston – 6.24 percent with no points

Houston – 6.12 percent with 0.75 point

Dallas – 6.14 percent with 0.48 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.15 percent with 0.55 point


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