Improvement in the job market and consumer spending helped pushed mortgage rates higher this week, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed to an average 6.73 percent from 6.63 percent a week ago, and the 15-year fixed gained from 6.3 percent to 6.39 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.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) costs were mostly higher, with the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM growing to 6.35 percent from 6.29 percent last week and the one-year ARM holding steady at 5.71 percent. Points on these loans averaged 0.5.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement that this week’s climb in mortgage rates “nearly eliminated the declines made in rates over the previous three weeks. In addition, consumer credit jumped by $12.9 billion in May, almost double market expectations.”

In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that 132,000 nonfarm jobs were added to payrolls in June, beating expectations and signaling a growing economy.

Nothaft added that the July outlook “forecasts 30-year fixed rates to stay around their current level through the end of the year,” and total home sales and housing starts for 2007 will likely fall to “5-year lows.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates increased slightly, with the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate now 6.78 percent, and discount and origination points averaging 0.29.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing moved higher to 6.46 percent, Bankrate.com reported, and on larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate moved back over the 7 percent threshold to 7.02 percent. Adjustable-rate mortgages behaved the same, with the average one-year ARM and 5/1 ARM each rising, to 6.27 percent and 6.54 percent, respectively.

Since hitting a one-year high last month, mortgage rates have stabilized, according to Bankrate.com. In the weeks since, mortgage rates have remained in a very narrow band — just one-tenth of one percentage point. This is reminiscent of what was seen earlier this year when mortgage rates hovered for a three-month span within a range of just one-sixth of one percentage point. However, several upcoming inflation barometers, as well as Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony and the release of the FOMC’s June meeting minutes, could be the catalyst for renewed volatility in Treasury yields and mortgage rates.

Bankrate.com reported that average borrowing costs on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are more than $50 higher now than they were three months ago. In April, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.31 percent, meaning that a $165,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,022. With the average 30-year fixed rate now 6.78 percent, the same loan originated today would carry a monthly payment of $1,073.

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 – 6.81 percent with 0.08 point

Los Angeles – 6.82 percent with 0.44 point

Chicago – 6.81 percent with 0.1 point

San Francisco – 6.75 percent with 0.53 point

Philadelphia – 6.84 percent with 0.16 point

Detroit – 6.82 percent with 0.04 point

Boston – 6.8 percent with 0.01 point

Houston – 6.78 percent with 0.48 point

Dallas – 6.74 percent with 0.5 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.65 percent with 0.56 point

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