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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 11/08/2012

Low mortgage rates continue

Mortgage rates continue to bounce along near historic lows, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.

For the past seven weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate average has been below 3.5 percent. This week, it was 3.4 percent, up from 3.39 percent a week ago, but down from 3.99 percent a year ago at this time.

Since the 15-year fixed-rate average sunk lower than the five-year adjustable-rate average back on Oct. 4, it has remained below the five-year ARM. This week, it was 2.69 percent, down from 2.70 percent a week ago and 3.3 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were mixed. The five-year ARM was at 2.73 percent, down from 2.74 percent a week ago and 2.98 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM was at 2.59 percent, up from 2.58 percent a week ago but down from 2.95 percent a year ago.

Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, cited October’s employment numbers as a reason why mortgage rates remained at near record lows.

“The economy added 171,000 jobs, above the market consensus forecast, and the two prior months were revised up a combined 84,000,” he said in a statement. “The Labor Department also reported that the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent and that average hourly wages were unchanged.”

Earlier this week, Freddie Mac reported a profit in the third quarter of $2.9 billion. The agency, which remains under government control, also said it would not be requesting more federal aid.

“Freddie Mac’s strong financial performance this quarter was driven by favorable market conditions, including the continued improvement in the housing market, as well as our ongoing efforts to minimize losses on our legacy book,” said Freddie Mac CEO Donald H. Layton, in a statement. “Our inventory of delinquent loans is at the lowest level in two years and our higher quality new book of business now comprises 60 percent of our portfolio.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications continued their slow decline for the fifth week in a row, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, fell 5 percent from last week. The Refinance Index went down 5 percent, while the Purchase Index dropped 5 percent compared with the previous week.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, attributed much of the decline to Hurricane Sandy.

“Last week’s storm had a significant impact on application volumes on the East Coast,” he said. “Applications fell more than 60 percent compared to the prior week in New Jersey, almost 50 percent in New York and nearly 40 percent in Connecticut. Other East Coast states also saw declines over the week, while many states in other parts of the country had increases in application volumes.”

The refinance share of mortgage accounted for 80 percent of applications.

By  |  10:00 AM ET, 11/08/2012

 
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