Rates on 30-year mortgages rose for a fourth consecutive week, climbing to the highest level since late March, as financial markets continued to worry about inflation.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the nationwide average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose this week to 5.98 percent, up from 5.91 percent last week. It was the highest level since rates rose the week of March 31 to 6.04 percent, which so far has been the highest nationwide average for the 30-year mortgage this year.

"Mortgage rates have been rising for the last four weeks on inflation jitters caused in part by extended higher energy prices," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac.

Energy prices have been pushed upward by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which shut down oil platforms and refineries along the Gulf Coast.

The Federal Reserve last month decided to raise a key short-term interest rate it controls for an 11th time, with Fed officials saying they are more worried about the inflation threat from surging energy prices than they are concerned that the hurricanes will have a lasting impact on economic growth.

Nothaft said he expects mortgage rates will continue to rise in coming months as the economy keeps growing but at "perhaps a slightly slower pace than in the recent past."

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, averaged 5.54 percent, up from 5.48 percent last week. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.77 percent, the highest level in more than three years and up from 4.68 percent last week.

Rates on five-year hybrid adjustable rate mortgages averaged 5.48 percent this week, up from 5.31 percent last week.

A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.82 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 5.24 percent and one-year ARMs averaged 4.08 percent. Freddie Mac does not have historical data on the five-year ARM, which it began tracking this year.

AWARDS . . . Jack O'Donohue of Trust Properties in Fairfax was named 2005 Realtor of the Year by the Virginia Association of Realtors.

EVENTS . . . Home Depot and AARP are sponsoring three how-to workshops on Tuesday, aimed at homeowners 50 and older. The workshops, to be held at all Home Depot stores, cover topics the organizations say are of special interest to people as they age.

At 11 a.m., "Update Your Home for Lifelong Comfort and Safety" includes kitchen and bath updates to improve safety and increase mobility, as well as ways to improve indoor and outdoor lighting. At noon, "Home Energy Efficiency Projects That Save You Money" identifies sources of energy loss that lead to higher utility bills, and provides suggestions on how to cut those bills. At 7 p.m., "Preventive Home Maintenance to Protect Your Most Valuable Asset" covers topics including replacing furnace filters, maintaining smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, checking for water leaks, roof inspection and exterior maintenance.

To register for any workshop, call 800-293-8412 or visit www.homedepotclinics.com.

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