Mortgage rates eased this week as economic uncertainty over the crisis in Japan and turmoil in the Middle East had investors seeking safety in bonds, including those that fund most mortgages.Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.76 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending March 17, down from 4.88 percent last week and 4.96 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.Rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans have retreated in recent weeks after hitting a high for the year of 5.05 percent during the week ending Feb. 10. The 30-year fixed-rate hit an all-time low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971 of 4.17 percent during the week ending Nov. 11.Rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans averaged 3.97 percent this week with an average 0.7 point -- the best rate since December -- down from 4.15 percent last week and 4.33 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate loan hit a low in records dating back to 1991 of 3.57 per...
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