Mortgage rates move higher after five weeks of declines


A stronger-than-expected employment report for April drove mortgage rates higher for the first time in six weeks, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.42 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was up from 3.35 percent a week ago but down from 3.83 percent a year ago. Since rising to 3.63 percent in mid-March, the 30-year fixed rate had fallen every week but one.

The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 2.61 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was a record-low 2.56 percent a week ago and 3.05 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate hasn’t been above 3 percent for nearly a year.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were mixed. The five-year ARM rose to 2.58 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.56 percent a week ago. The one-year ARM fell to 2.53 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was down from 2.56 percent a week ago.

“Fixed mortgage rates edged up following a solid employment report for April,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “The economy gained 165,000 new jobs on net last month, more than the market consensus forecast and the largest monthly increase this year. On top of that, revisions added 114,000 more jobs to February and March as well. All of these factors allowed the unemployment rate to fall to 7.5 percent in April, the lowest since December 2008.”

Meanwhile, the near historic low interest rates are prompting more home owners to refinance their mortgages, which is driving mortgages applications higher, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, climbed 7 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index rose 8 percent, while the Purchase Index increased 2 percent.

After seven weeks of almost no movement, the refinance share of mortgage activity edged up to 76 percent of total applications. It was at its highest level since early March.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.

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