Rates on 30-year mortgages jumped to the highest level in more than two years this week as financial markets grew more concerned about inflation.

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the nationwide average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages was 6.36 percent, up from 6.31 percent last week. That was the highest level since 30-year mortgages were at 6.44 percent in early September 2003.

"News that wages grew faster than had been expected in October reinforced fears of inflation in the financial markets, and that bumped up interest rates again this week," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

Government reports due out next week on inflation in October will be watched closely by investors to see if huge increases in energy costs are beginning to show up in the "core" inflation rate, which excludes energy and food, Nothaft said.

The nation's housing market has been booming with sales of both new and existing homes expected to set records for the fifth consecutive year. But economists are forecasting that the sales pace will slow next year under the impact of higher mortgage rates.

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing a home mortgage, averaged 5.89 percent this week, up from 5.85 percent last week.

One-year adjustable-rate mortgages were 5.12 percent, up from 5.09 percent last week.

Rates on five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.81 percent this week, up from 5.76 percent last week.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The 30-year mortgage carried a nationwide average fee of 0.5 point while all the other categories carried a nationwide average fee of 0.6 point.

A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.76 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 5.16 percent and one-year ARMs averaged 4.16 percent. Freddie Mac does not have historical data on the five-year ARM, which it began tracking this year.

EVENT . . . The Minority Building Industry Association from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday hosts "A Kick-Off Gala" to introduce the new Upper Marlboro-based group, which will advocate for and address the needs and concerns of minorities in the residential and commercial building industries in the Washington area. Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson and several county council members are expected to speak.

Tickets to the event at the Coco Cabana Restaurant at 2031-A University Blvd., Hyattsville, cost $50. For information, call 301-627-5417, ext. 704; download ticket form at www.mbiaonline.com/


AWARDS . . . The Environmental Protection Agency presents its 2005 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum. Awards will be given in five categories: overall excellence, built projects, policies and regulations, small communities, and military base.

The National Building Museum is at 401 F St. NW, accessible by Metro.

Off-street visitor parking is not available. More information can be found at www.nbm.org.