Rates on 30-year mortgages rose for a fifth consecutive week, topping 6 percent for the first time since March as investors continued to worry about inflation.
The nationwide average for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose this week to 6.03 percent, Freddie Mac reported Thursday, the first time the rate has been above 6 percent since it hit 6.04 percent in the last week of March.
Analysts said that the surge in energy costs following hurricane-related production shutdowns along the Gulf Coast has sparked fears in financial markets of higher inflation.
Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, said he expected mortgage rates to keep rising gradually in coming months and predicted that the 30-year mortgage could hit 6.4 percent in early 2006.
"Although mortgage rates have been rising for the last several weeks, they still remain historically very affordable, and home sales this year will most certainly be at record high levels," he said.
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.
Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing a home mortgage, averaged 5.62 percent this week, up from 5.54 percent last week.
One-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.85 percent, the highest level in more than three years and up from 4.77 percent last week.
Rates on five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.57 percent this week, up from 5.48 percent last week.
The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The five-year ARM carried a nationwide average fee of 0.7 point while the other three mortgage categories carried an average fee of 0.6 point.
A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.74 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 5.14 percent and one-year ARMs averaged 4.01 percent. Freddie Mac does not have historical data on the five-year ARM, which it began tracking this year.
LECTURE . . . The National Building Museum and the American Planning Association announced this week that they are establishing an annual lecture to draw attention to critical issues in city and regional planning in the United States, to be called the L'Enfant Lecture on City Planning and Design. British planner, teacher and author Sir Peter Hall will give the inaugural lecture on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, Washington. Registration is required and can be made by calling 202-272-2448 or at the Web site www.nbm.org. The registration fee for the event is $12 for planning association and museum members and $17 for non-members.
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