Mortgage rates crept higher for the second straight week, buoyed by a Commerce Department announcement that retail sales for November were better than expected, Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com reported today in their weekly surveys. In Freddie Mac's survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased this week to an average 6.13 percent from 6.12 percent a week ago, and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage gained from 5.86 percent to 5.89 percent. Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans. "What is interesting to note is that the 30-year (fixed-rate mortgage) this week is one-eighth of a percentage point lower than the 30-year (fixed-rate mortgage) was at this time last year," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "This could bode well for housing in the new year, and indeed we have seen a spike in refinancing activity over the past few weeks as rates have come down. B...
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