The 15-year fixed-rate average remained the same as it was a week ago, holding steady at 3.16 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.74 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average edged up to 3.17 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.16 percent a week ago and 2.75 percent a year ago.
Investors are becoming increasingly wary of the political climate in Washington and tensions around the world. Those concerns have prompted them to flee toward the safe haven of government bonds. As a result, bond prices have risen and yields have fallen.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury sank to 2.17 percent Wednesday, its lowest level in two months. Mortgage rates tend to follow the same path as long-term bond yields.
Investors are also keeping an eye on the Jackson Hole symposium where Federal Bank chair Janet L. Yellen could signal how the central bank will begin unwinding its balance sheet.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week. Shashank Shekhar, chief executive of Arcus Lending, is one who expects rates to hold steady.
“Rates have remained mostly the same during the month of August and not much should change in the coming week,” Shekhar said. “The net effect of various economic news on one side and threat of a government shutdown and termination of NAFTA by the president on the other side will be not much. Other than small intra-day changes, consumers can expect a stable interest rate this week.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat again last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — ticked down 0.5 percent. The refinance index increased 0.3 percent, while the purchase index decreased 3 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 48.7 percent of all applications.