Long-term mortgage rates came down this week to near six-month lows as waning consumer confidence and weak home sales cast doubt on the strength of the economy, Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com reported today.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sank to an average 6.26 percent from 6.33 percent last week, and the average 15-year fixed rate dropped from 5.99 percent to 5.91 percent. Points, or fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

The 30-year rate hasn’t been this low since the week ending May 17, when it averaged 6.21 percent; the 15-year rate is now at a low not seen since May 10, when it averaged 5.87 percent, Freddie Mac reported.

Average rates on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) also hit lows not seen since May, as the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM dipped to an average 5.98 percent from 6.03 percent a week ago, and the average one-year ARM rate fell from 5.66 percent to 5.57 percent. Points on the five-year and one-year loans averaged 0.4 and 0.6, respectively.

“October’s consumer confidence fell to its lowest level since October 2005 as mortgage rates continued to decline this week to their lowest level in almost six months,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “Continued market concerns about weaker economic growth and further declines in the housing market have kept mortgage rates low over the last few weeks.

“Although the third-quarter gain in real gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.9 percent was stronger than market forecasts, the housing market has subtracted from GDP growth over the past 21 months ending in September. In its most recent policy announcement, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) noted that the rate of expansion in the economy will most likely slow in the near term, due in part to a reflection of the intensity of the housing correction.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates moved lower this week, with the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate sliding to 6.29 percent, and discount and origination points on 30-year loans averaging 0.38.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing inched downward to 5.99 percent, Bankrate.com reported, and the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate retreated to 7.03 percent. Adjustable mortgage rates were mixed, with the average one-year ARM sliding to 6.05 percent and the average 5/1 ARM jumping to 6.22 percent.

According to Bankrate.com, mortgage rates were little changed in the days leading up to the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting on interest rates. Tame inflation data gave the Fed necessary latitude to cut interest rates, but that won’t necessarily translate into lower mortgage rates. In fact, mortgage rates increased in the days following the September Fed rate cut, a move that has since been reversed. The monthly employment report on Friday will likely be a bigger driver of mortgage rates than the Fed meeting, Bankrate.com said.

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 – 6.34 percent with 0.23 point

Los Angeles – 6.35 percent with 0.58 point

Chicago – 6.38 percent with 0.2 point

San Francisco – 6.23 percent with 0.64 point

Philadelphia – 6.34 percent with 0.16 point

Detroit – 6.4 percent with 0.03 point

Boston – 6.39 percent with 0.01 point

Houston – 6.08 percent with 0.88 point

Dallas – 6.22 percent with 0.51 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.16 percent with 0.58 point

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