Long-term mortgage rates rose for the third consecutive week as rising fuel prices ignited inflationary fears economywide, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.91 percent for the week ended today, up from last week when it averaged 5.8 percent. The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 5.48 percent, up from last week when it averaged 5.37 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.5.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 5.44 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.31 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.68 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up slightly from last week when it averaged 4.48 percent.

“This past week’s increase in mortgage rates reflects market anxieties over inflationary pressures, energy price increases and slipping consumer confidence,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. “Taken together these developments suggest less personal spending during the last quarter of the year and additional upward pressure on mortgage rates.

“Looking ahead, next week’s employment report for September will provide a critical indicator of the economic effects of the recent hurricanes. If that report confirms the market’s expectation for only a slight bump in the unemployment rate and overall job losses of around 200,000 personnel, mortgage rates may not rise much more through the end of the year.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates increased again this week due to concerns of the inflationary effects of high fuel prices. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 5.88 percent to 5.97 percent, according to Bankrate.com. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.39 discount and origination points.

Bankrate.com reported that the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate increased as well, rising from 5.5 percent to 5.58 percent, while the average jumbo 30-year fixed-rate climbed from 6.05 percent to 6.13 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages also moved higher, with the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rising from 5.46 percent to 5.59 percent, while the average one-year ARM ticked higher from 4.9 percent to 4.95 percent.

Rates rose modestly this week because investors worried that the back-to-back hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico could lead to inflation caused by higher fuel prices, according to Bankrate.com. That’s a switch from just a couple of weeks ago, when investors and economists talked about how higher fuel prices could depress economic growth, curbing inflation and keeping interest rates low.

Lately there has been a shift; now investors and economists say they are concerned that higher fuel prices could lead to higher prices for everything. Mortgage rates went up because of these inflationary expectations, Bankrate.com reported.

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

New York – 5.95 percent with 0.23 point

Los Angeles – 6.02 percent with 0.59 point

Chicago – 6.02 percent with 0.01 point

San Francisco – 6.02 percent with 0.33 point

Philadelphia – 5.87 percent with 0.39 point

Detroit – 5.98 percent with 0.25 point

Boston – 5.99 percent with 0.11 point

Houston – 5.99 percent with 0.75 point

Dallas – 5.99 percent with 0.57 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.84 percent with 0.68 point


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