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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 04/26/2012

Mortgage rates hold near record lows for second straight week

Mortgage rates held virtually steady for the second consecutive week, with fixed-rate averages hovering just above their respective record lows, according to data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.


Fixed-rate mortgages nearly matched their record lows this week. (Andrew Harrer - BLOOMBERG)
The 30-year fixed-rate average returned to 3.88 percent after climbing slightly last week to 3.90 percent. The average has stayed below 4 percent all but one week this year and remains far lower that its mark of 4.78 this time in 2011.

The 15-year also nudged down from 3.13 percent last week to 3.12 percent, nearly matching its record low of 3.11 percent set two weeks earlier. One year ago, such mortgages averaged 3.97 percent.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said the steady rates were largely the result of the markets waiting for the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy announcement, which wasn’t released until Wednesday.

“The Fed stated that it expects economic growth to remain moderate and then pick up gradually,” Nothalf said in a statement. “In addition, it noted that labor market conditions have improved in recent months and it anticipates the unemployment rate will decline gradually.”

While the fixed-rate averages experienced little movement, the adjustable-rate mortgages were much less stable this week. The average 5-year ARM jumped from 2.78 percent to 2.85 percent, however, the 1-year ARM dropped from 2.81 percent to 2.74 percent.

Nothaft also pointed out that the housing market has seen some renewed life in the past week, as the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s latest purchase-only house price index rose 0.3 percent in February. More than half of the nation’s metropolitan areas experienced increases over the month, according to a new report from S&P/Case-Shiller.

Sales of new homes were also stronger than anticipated last month and February’s sales were revised upwards to the strongest pace in almost two years. Moreover, existing home sales declined in March but are still well ahead of the pace compared to one year ago.

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By  |  10:05 AM ET, 04/26/2012

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