Strong employment numbers push mortgage rates up


(Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)

Mortgage rates wandered upward this week, but it had more to do with the jobs report than what the Federal Reserve was up to.

Although the Fed released documents Wednesday indicating that it likely would be ending its bond-buying program in October, a move that caused rates to spike a year ago, that information came too late to have an effect. Instead, economists attributed the bump to strong employment numbers.

Mortgage chart for July 10

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average nudged up to 4.15 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 4.12 percent a week ago and 4.51 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.24 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.22 percent a week ago and 3.53 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also rose. The five-year ARM average sneaked up to 2.99 percent this week with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.98 percent a week ago and 3.26 percent a year ago. The five-year ARM has stayed below 3 percent for only four weeks this year.

The one-year ARM average grew to 2.40 percent this week with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.38 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates increased for the week as the labor market appears to be improving,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Based on the employment report, released last week, the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June, gained 224,000 in May and increased by 304,000 in April. Also, the unemployment rate in June fell to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent in May.”

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

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, showed a modest increase of 1.9 percent. The refinance index edged up 0.4 percent, while the purchase index rose 4 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 52 percent of all applications, down from 53 percent a week ago.

 

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 · July 10