Mortgage rates edged up this week on news of healthy job gains and higher retail sales, Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com reported today in their weekly surveys.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched up this week to an average 6.12 percent from 6.11 percent a week ago, while the 15-year fixed gained from 5.84 percent to 5.86 percent during the period.

Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30-year and 0.5 on the 15-year loans.

“Mixed economic reports have kept mortgage rates from making any drastic changes this week,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “On the upside, there was stronger job growth and greater-than-expected retail sales in November. Offsetting that news was weaker wage growth in that same time frame and lower indications of consumer sentiment in December.

“Long-term mortgage rates, while expected to rise over the new year, will very likely not get up to even 7 percent, which will help to moderate the current weakness in the housing market.”

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) held at 5.92 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, while the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM rose to an average 5.45 percent, with an average 0.8 point, up from last week’s 5.43 percent.

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates rebounded this week following upbeat economic reports on employment and retail sales. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 6.13 percent, which is still the third-lowest level of 2006, and these loans had an average of 0.24 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing rose to 5.86 percent, Bankrate.com reported. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate is now 6.38 percent. The average 5/1 ARM climbed above the 6 percent mark to 6.02 percent, while the average one-year ARM was unchanged from last week at 5.88 percent.

Bankrate.com said mortgage rates reversed much of the previous week’s decline after the monthly employment report and strong retail sales hinted at underlying strength in the economy. In the current good-news-is-bad-news economic climate, any signs of economic strength are feared to feed inflation and prompt another Fed hike. While that might be a stretch, good economic news certainly prolongs the period of time until the Fed might cut rates. Investors don’t respond kindly to that, pricing bond prices lower and bond yields higher. Mortgage rates are closely related to the 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 – 6.07 percent with 0.04 point

Los Angeles – 6.15 percent with 0.35 point

Chicago – 6.32 percent with 0.01 point

San Francisco – 6.09 percent with 0.35 point

Philadelphia – 6.09 percent with 0.25 point

Detroit – 6.2 percent with 0.01 point

Boston – 6.18 percent with 0.06 point

Houston – 6.12 percent with 0.42 point

Dallas – 6.1 percent with 0.37 point

Washington, D.C. – 6 percent with 0.51 point

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