Long-term mortgage rates held steady this week as oil prices dropped, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.71 percent for the week ended today, unchanged from last week. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped slightly to 5.3 percent, down from last week’s 5.32 percent average. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.6.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 5.24 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 5.3 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.45 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.48 percent.

“We expect that near-term growth will now be a bit weaker than had been anticipated, due in very large part to the disruption in economic activity brought on by Katrina last week,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “However, the federal monies that will flow into the damaged areas and the lower interest rates brought on by the disaster will stimulate economic growth next year, making up for the slowdown in the last part of this year.

“Reconstruction efforts are going to place upward pressure on construction material, and this could add another 2 percent to 3 percent to new-home costs in the coming months, but should be balanced out by slightly lower mortgage rates.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained at 5.8 percent as oil prices retreated from recent highs, while rates on other mortgage products dipped slightly. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.38 discount and origination points.

Bankrate.com reported that the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate retreated from 5.43 percent to 5.39 percent this week, while the average jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked lower from 5.98 percent to 5.97 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages declined as well, with the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage dropping from 5.41 percent to 5.36 percent, and the average one-year ARM falling from 4.95 percent to 4.91 percent. The gap between the average 30-year fixed rate and the one-year adjustable rate remains the narrowest since May 2001.

Mortgage rates were declining due to rising oil prices, even in the weeks before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, according to Bankrate.com. Although concerns remain that rising energy prices will hamper consumer spending and hurt the economy, a drop in oil prices this week kept 10-year Treasury note yields from falling below 4 percent. Fixed mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

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 0.15 point

Los Angeles – 5.84 percent with 0.58 point

Chicago – 5.9 percent with 0.04 point

San Francisco – 5.88 percent with 0.33 point

Philadelphia – 5.69 percent with 0.37 point

Detroit – 5.81 percent with 0.25 point

Boston – 5.83 percent with 0.11 point

Houston – 5.78 percent with 0.72 point

Dallas – 5.83 percent with 0.54 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.66 percent with 0.68 point


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