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Mortgage rates move slightly higher as refinances fuel uptick in applications

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)
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Mortgage rates were barely affected by last week’s better-than-expected employment report.

Despite indications that America’s labor market is surging again, home loan rates remained about where they have been. For those who have been paying more attention to the Olympics, presidential election, beach or back to school, they are hovering at their lowest levels in three years., which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than two-thirds of the experts it surveyed say rates aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Seventy percent of the panelists think they will move no more than plus or minus two basis points (a basis point is 0.01 percentage point) in the next week.

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The 15-year fixed-rate average increased to 2.76 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.74 percent a week ago and 3.17 percent a year ago.

The five-year adjustable rate average was also higher, moving to 2.74 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.73 percent a week ago and 2.93 percent a year ago.

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“A surprisingly strong July jobs report showed 255,000 jobs added and 0.3 percent wage growth from last month, exceeding many experts’ expectations,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement. “In response, the 10-Year Treasury yield rose to its highest level since June and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased 2 basis points to 3.45 percent.”

Refinances drove mortgage applications higher this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume – climbed 7.1 percent from the previous week. The refinance index jumped 10 percent, while the purchase index rose 3 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62.4 percent of all applications.

“After two consecutive weeks of rate drops, mostly driven by lingering concerns over weak second-quarter growth and ongoing concerns about global growth, we saw a 10 percent spike in refinance applications last week,” said David Stevens, MBA president and chief executive. “Applications for a mortgage to purchase a home increased 2.6 percent last week, breaking a three-week decline, and were up almost 13 percent year over year.”