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Mortgage rates rise in anticipation of possible action by the Federal Reserve

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Mortgage rates moved up this week, according to data released Thursday, driven by improvements in the economy and the possibility that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates next month.

Amid encouraging signs in the job and housing markets, the Federal Reserve in its April minutes left open the prospect of hiking interest rates in June.

Majority of Fed officials prepared to raise interest rates in June, documents show

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average increased to 3.64 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.58 percent a week ago and 3.87 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 2.89 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.81 a week ago and 3.11 percent a year ago.

The five-year adjustable rate average ticked up to 2.87 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.8 percent a week ago and 2.9 percent a year ago.

Home buyers don’t seem to be using new tool to shop for mortgages

Freddie Mac aggregates current rates weekly from 125 lenders nationwide to come up with a national mortgage rate. While the mortgage rate is tied more directly to yields in 10-year Treasury bonds, this week’s increase was related more to lenders’ anticipation that the benchmark rate would soon go up.

“U.S. Treasury yields moved up in response to the Fed minutes release, which kept alive the possibility of a summer rate-hike,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, mortgage applications ticked up this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — rose 2.3 percent from the previous week. The refinance index inched up 0.4 percent, while the purchase index increased 5 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 53.7 percent of all applications.

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