With signs emerging that the economic recovery is slowing, mortgage rates continue to hover at or near record lows and demand for purchase loans remains weak, surveys by the Mortgage Bankers Association and Freddie Mac show.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.37 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Sept. 23, Freddie Mac said in releasing its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

That’s unchanged from last week, and not far off the 4.32 percent record low seen during the week ending Sept. 2. At the same time a year ago, 30-year fixed-rate loans averaged 5.04 percent.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were also unchanged from last week, remaining at a record-low 3.82 percent with an average 0.7 point. That’s down from 4.46 percent a year ago.

Rates on 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.54 percent with an average of 0.6 point, down from 3.55 percent last week and 4.51 percent a year ago. That brought rates on 5-year ARM loans back down to a low in records dating to 2005, last seen during the week ending Sept. 2.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARM loans averaged 3.46 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from 3.4 percent last week but down from 4.52 percent a year ago.

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee on Tuesday said there are signs that the pace of the recovery has slowed, and that it would not only keep its target for a key short-term interest rate at close to zero percent, but was prepared to provide additional stimulus to encourage growth.

That was taken as a sign that the Fed — which wrapped up $1.25 trillion in purchases of mortgage-backed securities in March — may be ready to embark on a new campaign of buying up Treasurys.

In any event, "The perception of slow growth and low inflation removed any upward pressure on fixed mortgage rates this week," Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement.

Nothaft noted that fixed mortgage rates usually fall for 12 months following the end of a recession.

Members of the National Bureau of Economic Research recently determined that, according to their calculations, the recession ended in June 2009.

In announcing their determination, members of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee added that they had not concluded "that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity."

(In its statement, the Fed noted that while household spending is increasing gradually, it remains constrained by "high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.")

Looking back a week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said a seasonally adjusted index tracking demand for purchase mortgages was down 3.3 percent from the week before during the week ending Sept. 17, and off 38 percent from a year ago.

Although requests for refinancings were down for the third week in a row, they still accounted for 81.1 percent of all mortgage applications, the MBA said in releasing its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

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