Mortgage rates fell further this week on the belief the economy is in for more slow growth, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

 

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to an average 6.14 percent from last week’s 6.18 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage slid from 5.92 percent to 5.86 percent.

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

 

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 5.9 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week’s 5.93 percent. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.47 percent, with an average 0.6 point, down from 5.49 percent last week.

 

“Mortgage rates slid further in the past week to the lowest level this year, as volatility in overseas stock markets led to questions about implications for the U.S. economy,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Uncertainties about the strength of the economy dominated the effects of other indicators, such as January’s personal income growth and core inflation rate measured through the personal consumption report. Both increased at rates faster than had been expected, and potentially would have put upward pressure on interest rates. But the flight to quality due to the stock market’s fall pushed bond yields down instead.”

 

In Bankrate.com’s survey, a lack of definitive economic data helped keep mortgage rates at the lowest point since mid-December. Mortgage rates declined for the fourth time in the past five weeks, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to 6.19 percent. Discount and origination fees on these loans averaged 0.3.

 

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing was unchanged at 5.95 percent, according to Bankrate.com. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate inched higher to 6.42 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages were mixed, with the average 5/1 ARM moving up to 6.04 percent and the average one-year ARM sliding to 5.94 percent.

 

Bankrate.com said mortgage rates remained low on evidence of slower economic growth. Last week, the fourth-quarter gross domestic product was revised sharply lower. This week, both productivity and factory orders came in lower than forecast. Although a survey of the manufacturing sector was stronger than expected, the larger services sector slowed notably. The prospects for slower economic growth help buoy demand for Treasury securities, pushing bond prices higher and yields lower. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

 

Nothaft added, “Looking ahead, as excess business inventories are worked off and the drag from residential investment diminishes, we expect real GDP growth to accelerate in the first half of 2007 to 2.6 percent and average 3 percent for the year. That considered, we do not foresee significant movements in mortgage rates, with rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging between 6.3 and 6.4 percent for the remainder of the year.”

 

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 – 6.14 percent with 0.15 point

 

Los Angeles – 6.23 percent with 0.4 point

 

Chicago – 6.26 percent with 0.09 point

 

San Francisco – 6.12 percent with 0.47 point

 

Philadelphia – 6.18 percent with 0.34 point

 

Detroit – 6.25 percent with 0.04 point

 

Boston – 6.25 percent with 0.09 point

 

Houston – 6.21 percent with 0.44 point

 

Dallas – 6.11 percent with 0.47 point

 

Washington, D.C. – 6.13 percent with 0.49 point

 

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