Mortgage rates climbed this week as Wall Street investors responded to some encouraging signs that the economy is gaining momentum.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.76 percent, the mortgage company Freddie Mac said in its weekly survey released Thursday. That was up from 5.70 percent last week.

Rates on 30-year mortgages hit a high this year of 6.34 percent the week of May 13. After that, rates, while bouncing around, drifted generally lower as economic activity had cooled a bit, easing inflation fears.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.98 percent, with 15-year mortgages at 5.31 percent and one-year ARMs at 3.73 percent.

Wall Street investors more recently were buoyed by a government report, issued on Nov. 5, showing the economy added 337,000 jobs in October, the most in seven months.

"October's fervent job growth statistics . . . led financial markets to believe the economy is picking up steam," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. "The end result translates into higher long-term mortgage rates this week."

Even with the increase, though, mortgage rates are still low by historical standards, analysts said.

For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates rose this week to 5.16 percent, from 5.08 percent.

For one-year adjustable rate mortgages, rates averaged 4.16 percent this week, compared with 4 percent last week. The increase in rates for short-term ARMs is related to the Federal Reserve's decision on Wednesday to boost a key short-term rate by 1/4 percentage point to 2 percent.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year and 15-year mortgages each carried a 0.7 point fee; one-year ARMs carried a 0.6 point fee.

EVENTS . . . The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce its third annual National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, Washington. The awards honor public agencies that have applied smart growth to help neighborhoods, infrastructure and the environment. Admission is free; reservations required. For information, refer to the Web site at . . . "The Residential Architecture of John Russell Pope," a discussion of Pope's homes in Washington and how they related to his work, is to be presented by author James B. Garrison from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, Washington. Garrison is to sign copies of his book, "Mastering Tradition: The Residential Architecture of John Russell Pope" (Acanthus Press, $79). Admission is $15, $10 for students; registration is required. Call 202-272-2448 for information; Web site:

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