Long-term mortgage rates slipped for the second straight week on news that inflation is now less of a threat, according to the latest surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.32 percent for the week ended today, down from last week’s average of 6.34 percent. The average for the 15-year fixed loan is 5.97 percent, down slightly from last week’s average of 5.98 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.6.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 5.96 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.93 percent. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.41 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.37 percent.

“The most recent economic indicators released this week showed that inflation is, indeed, being held in check,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “That news allowed long-term mortgage rates to drift a little lower for the second week in a row. Shorter-term rates, however, rose in reaction to a recent speech by Chairman Bernanke, of the Federal Reserve Board, that hinted at even further rate hikes this year.

“Meanwhile, existing-home sales for February were unexpectedly high, but experts think that this may be due to an unseasonably warm January when those contracts were closed. Nonetheless, the housing industry remains fundamentally fit as we move into the spring buying season.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, fixed mortgage rates dipped for the second week in a row, after hitting the highest point since Sept. 2003. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now 6.39 percent, with an average of 0.34 discount and origination points, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate ticked lower, from 6.08 percent to 6.06 percent, and the average jumbo 30-year fixed-rate slipped from 6.6 percent to 6.56 percent, Bankrate.com reported. Adjustable-rate mortgages fell, with the average 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage slumping from 6.07 percent to 6.04 percent, and the average one-year ARM sliding from 5.79 percent to 5.73 percent.

Mortgage rates declined for the second week in a row on hopes the Federal Open Market Committee won’t raise interest rates as aggressive as originally thought, according to Bankrate.com. Spirits were lifted when a gauge of consumer inflation showed very tame increases, even at the core price level that removes the impact of energy. The February Consumer Price Index released on March 16 allayed any fears that higher energy costs were pushing up prices of core consumer goods. This gave hope to the idea that the Fed may stop raising interest rates sooner, rather than later, perhaps by May. However, a surge in core producer prices for February counteracted the news on consumer prices, with bond yields down only slightly for the week. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

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

New York – 6.35 percent with 0.2 point

Los Angeles – 6.43 percent with 0.47 point

Chicago – 6.54 percent with 0.04 point

San Francisco – 6.46 percent with 0.31 point

Philadelphia – 6.31 percent with 0.36 point

Detroit – 6.46 percent with 0.03 point

Boston – 6.38 percent with 0.19 point

Houston – 6.37 percent with 0.61 point

Dallas – 6.36 percent with 0.53 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.25 percent with 0.67 point


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