Mortgage rates climb on Fed speculation

Aug. 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Average U.S. mortgage rates reached highs for the year, pushed by speculation over monetary policy, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said.

Freddie Mac said interest rates were rising due to higher rates in benchmark bond yields, as investors are speculating the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon initiate an unwinding of its easy money policies.

In the week ending Aug. 22, average interest rates on 30-year fixed rate loans rose to 4.58 percent with an average 0.8 point, up from the prior week when it averaged 4.40 percent.

A year ago at this time, rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans averaged 3.66 percent.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.60 percent with an average 0.7 point in the week, up from last week when it averaged 3.44 percent. A year ago in the same week, 15-year fixed-rate loans averaged 2.89 percent.

Rates for 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.21 percent this week with an average 0.5 point. Last week, rates for these loans averaged 3.23 percent. A year ago, they averaged 2.80 percent.

Rates for 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate loans averaged 2.67 percent in the week with an average 0.5 point. That was unchanged from last week, Freddie Mac said.

Last year over the same period, rates for 1-year adjustable-rate loans averaged 2.66 percent.

One point is equal to 1 percent of the amount of the loan and is typically paid up front. It includes a corresponding discount on the loan's long-term interest rates.

"Fixed mortgage rates continued to follow bond yields higher leading up to the August 21st release of the Federal Reserve monetary policy committee's minutes for July," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.

"In its July 30th and 31st meetings, the committee members were broadly comfortable with a plan to start reducing its bond purchases later this year, although a few emphasized the importance of being patient," he said.

"Meeting participants acknowledged mortgage rate increases might restrain housing market activity, but several members expressed confidence the housing recovery would be resilient in the face of higher rates," he added.

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