Long-term mortgage rates rose steadily this week to highs not seen since October on news that the economy grew better than expected in the fourth quarter, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage this week jumped to an average 6.34 percent from last week’s 6.25 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 5.98 percent to 6.06 percent. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6.04 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from 6 percent last week. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.54 percent, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week’s 5.49 percent.
“Interest rates moved higher following the latest upbeat economic news,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a statement. “The strong 3.5 percent annualized growth in the economy over the final quarter of 2006 occurred while inflation moderated. Solid economic growth and tepid inflation contributed to the Fed’s decision to leave the target short-term interest rate unchanged.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates have now increased in seven of the last eight weeks, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to a three-month high of 6.42 percent. The 30-year loans had an average of 0.34 discount and origination points.
The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage popular for refinancing climbed to 6.19 percent, according to Bankrate.com, and on larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate increased to 6.63 percent. Adjustable mortgage rates were also on the move, with the average 5/1 ARM stepping higher to 6.3 percent and the average one-year ARM reaching 6.06 percent, the highest since July.
Bankrate.com said that mortgage rates have been pressured in recent weeks by evidence of a stronger-than-expected economic environment. Even in the absence of much economic data over the past week, bond yields moved higher following lackluster reception to a government debt auction. Bond prices and yields move inversely and mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds. One positive development for mortgage rates is the Federal Open Market Committee’s admission that “core inflation readings have improved modestly in recent months,” as lower inflation can remove much of the upward pressure being felt by mortgage rates.
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 – 6.36 percent with 0.16 point
Los Angeles – 6.47 percent with 0.43 point
Chicago – 6.56 percent with 0.06 point
San Francisco – 6.3 percent with 0.62 point
Philadelphia – 6.43 percent with 0.32 point
Detroit – 6.52 percent with 0.01 point
Boston – 6.52 percent with 0.1 point
Houston – 6.44 percent with 0.59 point
Dallas – 6.3 percent with 0.6 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.26 percent with 0.53 point