Mortgage rates inch upward


(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Mortgage rates wandered upward last week, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average edged up to 4.33 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 4.28 percent a week ago and 3.56 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate went up for the second week in a row after falling for five straight weeks. It has remained below 4.5 percent since early January.

The 15-year fixed-rate average grew to 3.35 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 3.33 percent a week ago and 2.77 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has stayed below 3.5 percent for six weeks.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also gained. The five-year ARM average rose to 3.08 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.05 percent a week ago and 2.64 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average climbed to 2.57 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 2.55 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates crept up further following the uptick in the 10-year Treasury yield as minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting indicated little possibility of a pause in the central bank’s reduction of bond purchases,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Housing starts in January fell 16 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 888,000 units, below consensus forecast. Permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 937,000 in January, also below consensus.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications tumbled last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, sank 4.1 percent. The Refinance index dropped 3 percent. The Purchase Index fell to its lowest level since September 2011, decreasing 6 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity declined to its lowest level since September, accounting for 61 percent of all applications.

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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Kathy Orton · February 20