Government's MBS purchases keep lid on mortgage rates

Fed must decide whether to continue Treasury purchases next week

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Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows this week, as the Federal Reserve continued a program to buy up $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each month.

The government’s open-ended MBS purchases — part of a third round of quantitative easing ("QE3") announced by the Fed on Sept. 13 — have helped push mortgage rates into record low territory. Most members of the Fed’s Open Market Committee are expected to vote to maintain those purchases when they meet next week.