Mortgage rates were uneven this week as investors scurried toward bonds amid growing global economic concerns.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average dropped while the 15-year fixed-rate and five-year adjustable rate averages moved slightly higher.
The Freddie Mac survey, which aggregates rates from 125 lenders from across the country to come up with national averages for the most popular mortgages, was completed before China suspended trading on its stock market Thursday for the second time this week. With investors fleeing to bonds, U.S. Treasury yields were driven down to their lowest levels in almost a month. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell 7.3 basis points (a basis point is 0.01 percentage point) on Wednesday to 2.177 percent, its lowest level since Dec. 11.
The movement of the 10-year Treasury bond is one of the best indicators whether mortgage rates will rise or fall. When yields go down, interest rates tend to follow.
The 30-year fixed-rate average slid to 3.97 percent with an average 0.6 point, falling back below the 4 percent mark one week after rising above it. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.01 percent a week ago and 3.73 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 3.26 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.24 percent a week ago and 3.05 percent a year ago.
The five-year ARM average increased to 3.09 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.08 percent a week ago and 2.98 percent a year ago.
“Concerns about overseas economic developments have dominated financial markets to start the year,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.
“U.S. Treasury bond yields fell amidst a global equity selloff and flight to safety.”
Not unexpectedly, mortgage applications dropped off significantly during the holidays, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — plummeted 27 percent from two weeks ago, the last time the MBA did its survey. The refinance sank 37 percent, while the purchase index fell 15 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 55.4 percent of all applications.