Mortgage rates remained virtually unchanged this past week in response to mixed signals about the pace of the economic recovery, according the latest report published Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average remained just below 4.00 percent after crossing that threshold for the first time in months two weeks ago. The average this past week was 3.98 percent, nearly unchanged from the 3.99 percent posted the week prior and still well below the mark of 4.87 percent at this time last year.

The 15-year also dipped ever so slightly from 3.23 percent last week to 3.21 percent, down from one year ago when the average was 4.10 percent. Meanwhile, the 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage dropped from 2.90 percent to 2.86 percent, while the 1-year ARM held steady at 2.78 percent.

Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac, said the lack of movement in the rates was likely the result of mixed signals on the health of the economy.

“The final estimate of 2011 fourth quarter growth remained unchanged at 3 percent, representing the strongest pace since the second quarter of 2010,” he said in a statement. On the other hand, he pointed out that the “March 13th policy committee minutes from the Federal Reserve noted that the housing market remained depressed and supported the continuation of the maturity extension program through June 2012, but did not announce any new stimulus action beyond that date.”

On the housing front, the news this past week has been largely sour.

Sales of foreclosed homes are expected to rise 25 percent to 1.25 million in 2012 this year, according to new data from Moody’s Analytics. Meanwhile, on Friday, the National Association of Realtors also published data showing that more realty agents are running into snags when closing home sales. Nearly one-third of agents said they ran into deal cancellations in February, up from nine percent just one year ago, according to the report.

Days earlier, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s inspector general called for more scrutiny of loan backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reporting that the regulator is currently failing to adequately evaluate the actions of the two companies.

Related: Realty agents are running into delays and cancellations .

Related: Foreclosures expected to rise in 2012

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