Mortgage rates inched higher this week despite a lack of strong economic news, Freddie Mac reported today.

The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose from 5.67 percent to 5.72 percent, and the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate jumped from 5.15 percent to 5.25 percent.

Points, or fees that lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

“This week was relatively light on the number of economic data releases, which painted a mixed picture regarding the current state of the economy,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a prepared statement. “On a positive note, labor productivity rose higher than market forecasts in the fourth quarter of 2007 while gains in labor costs slowed.”

Nothaft added that housing affordability in December reached its highest level since March 2005, referring to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors. “However, with banks continuing to tighten lending standards, fewer families will likely have an opportunity to take advantage of these factors.”

Freddie Mac reported mixed movement in adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) this week. The average rate on five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs dipped from 5.21 percent to 5.19 percent, while the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM held steady at 5.03 percent. Points on these loans averaged 0.4.

According to Bankrate.com, which also conducts a weekly mortgage rate survey, “continued issues in credit markets” were the main reason mortgage rates moved higher this week.

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