Long-term mortgage rates increased for the fifth consecutive week on brighter job market news and lingering inflation concerns, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.03 percent for the week ended today, up from last week’s average of 5.98 percent. This is the highest the 30-year fixed has been since March 31 when it averaged 6.04 percent.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 5.62 percent, up from last week when it averaged 5.54 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.6.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 5.57 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.48 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.85 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.77 percent.

“In spite of the job losses caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the employment report was better than had been expected,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “This indicates that economic growth is likely to accelerate in 2006. That acceleration of growth, coupled with the specter of higher energy costs, will translate into higher long-term mortgage rates in the coming months. Mortgage rates are projected to rise gradually over the next year, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage expected to hover around 6 percent through 2005, and reach 6.4 percent by 2006.

“Still, although mortgage rates have been rising for the last several weeks, they still remain historically very affordable, and home sales this year will most certainly be at record-high levels.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates climbed for the fifth consecutive week, and remain the highest since March 30. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 6.07 percent to 6.1 percent, Bankrate.com said. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.4 discount and origination points.

Bankrate.com reported that the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate nosed higher as well, rising from 5.67 percent to 5.69 percent, while the average jumbo 30-year fixed-rate rose to 6.25 percent from 6.22 percent last week. Adjustable-rate mortgages also moved slightly higher, with the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage climbing from 5.69 percent to 5.74 percent, while the average one-year ARM zipped from 5.04 percent to 5.07 percent.

Concerns about higher inflation have led fixed mortgage rates higher in recent weeks, according to Bankrate.com. Repeated comments by Federal Reserve Board members about inflation and the need for continued interest-rate hikes have pushed long-term government bond yields higher. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on Treasury securities. Even the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s Sept. 20 meeting left little doubt that short-term interest rates are headed higher, giving both bond investors and mortgage shoppers an uneasy feeling.

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

New York – 6.08 percent with 0.23 point

Los Angeles – 6.17 percent with 0.6 point

Chicago – 6.17 percent with 0.06 point

San Francisco – 6.2 percent with 0.33 point

Philadelphia – 6.05 percent with 0.38 point

Detroit – 6.04 percent with 0.25 point

Boston – 6.15 percent with 0.1 point

Houston – 6.11 percent with 0.75 point

Dallas – 6.15 percent with 0.57 point

Washington, D.C. – 5.94 percent with 0.72 point

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