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Posted at 10:09 AM ET, 04/19/2012

Mortgage rates hold fairly steady, 30-year at 3.90 percent

Mortgage rates increased ever so slightly on the heels of largely comforting inflation data earlier this week, according to the latest report released Thursday by Freddie Mac.


Both fixed-rate averages dropped 0.02 percent this week on the heels of steady inflation numbers. (LARRY DOWNING - REUTERS)
Both primary indexes increased a mere 0.02 percent this week, with the 30-year creeping up from 3.88 percent to 3.90 percent following a massive dip the week before. One year ago, the average stood nearly a full point higher at 4.80 percent.

The 15-year also rose from its record low of 3.11 percent set the previous week to 3.13 percent, matching its previous historic low set in March and still well off the pace from this time last year, when the average 15-year was above 4.00 percent.

On the other hand, the 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate average slipped from 2.85 percent to 2.78 percent, while the 1-year ARM remained virtually unchanged at 2.81 percent (up from 2.80 percent).

Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist said the lack of movement this week’s rates was largely tied to the latest report from the Labor Department, which showed inflation has remained relatively mild in recent months.

“Fixed mortgage rates held relatively stable this week amid signs that inflation remains in check, “Frank Nothaft said. “Industrial production was flat in March, a reading below the market consensus forecast. Meanwhile, both headline inflation gauges, the consumer and producer price indexes, for March were in line with market expectations.”

The latest numbers come two days after mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced changes to their protocols for handling short sale offers. Beginning June 15, real estate agents working with distressed homeowners whose loans are backed by the two government-supported firms should expect to receive a decision on short sale offers within 30-60 days, part of new rules that fall under an initiative rolled out last fall to bring greater transparency to the short sale process and expedite decisions related to these pre-foreclosure sales.

One week ago, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde called on the United States government to reduce the mortgage debt owed by homeowners, an effort she said would help revive the nation’s economy and stimulate growth across the world. Lagarde implored government leaders to extend that relief to loans held by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Days earlier, the chief regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suggested it might make financial sense for the mortgage giants to reduce the loan balances of some struggling homeowners, though he added that additional analysis is required before such steps are taken.

RELATED: IMF chief calls for U.S. mortgage relief

RELATED: Reports from major banks suggest housing market is on the mend

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By  |  10:09 AM ET, 04/19/2012

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