Mortgage rates inched higher for the second consecutive week after steadily falling for the last couple months, according to the latest figures released Thursday by Freddie Mac.
The 30-year fixed rate average increased to 3.59 percent, slightly higher than its mark of 3.55 percent last week but still well below the 4.32 percent posted this time last year.
The 15-year landed at 2.84 percent, marking its eleventh straight week below the 3-percent threshold. That’s up ever so slightly from 2.83 percent the week before and down from 3.50 percent a year ago.
Hybrid adjustable mortgage rates headed in opposite directions this week, with the 5-year ARM increasing from 2.75 percent to 2.77 percent and the 1-year ARM dropping from 2.70 percent to 2.65 percent.
Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, pinned the overall increase in mortgage rates to the surprisingly uplifting employment data released late last week by the Labor Department.
“Fixed mortgage rates inched up again this week following stronger-than-expected employment reports,” he said in a statement. “The economy added 163,000 jobs in July, well above the market consensus forecast of 100,000, and the largest increase since February.
Nothaft also noted that the number of corporate layoffs dropped 45 percent year-over-year in July, suggesting the employment picture will likely continue to improve in the coming months.
On Tuesday, Freddie Mac reported a net income of $1.2 billion for the past three months, meaning the mortgage giant won’t require any additional federal aid after requesting $19 million in government funding during the first quarter of 2012.
Americans currently holding mortgages also fared better in the second quarter, as the number behind on their payments reached its lowest point in three years, according to data analysis published earlier this week by TransUnion. During the second quarter, only 5.49 percent of mortgage holders were behind on their payments by at least two months, down from 5.78 percent during the first quarter of 2012.