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Mortgage Rates Down on Tepid Housing Numbers

Fixed mortgage rates this week moved down to their lowest levels so far in 2014, according to surveys from Freddie Mac and finance site Bankrate.com.

The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) came down to 4.32 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending January 30, Freddie Mac reported in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Last week, the average 30-year rate was 4.39 percent.

A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.53 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.40 percent (0.6 point), down from 3.44 percent in the previous survey.

In adjustable rate changes, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.12 percent (0.5 point), down from 3.15 percent. The 1-year ARM increased slightly, meanwhile, rising up 1 basis point to 2.55 percent (0.4 point).

Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac, pointed to weaker housing data as the driving force behind this week’s rate movements.

“Mortgage rates eased somewhat as new home sales fell 7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted pace of 414,000 units, below the consensus,” Nothaft said.

At the same time, “[t]he S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite house price index declined 0.1 percent for the month of November, the first decrease since November 2012.”

Bankrate’s weekly national survey showed similar numbers, with the 30-year fixed dropping to 4.50 percent and the 15-year fixed slipping to 3.56 percent. The 5/1 ARM was also down a few points, falling to 3.37 percent.

“Some uneven economic data, particularly disappointment in the December jobs report and durable good orders, along with a bout of stock market volatility, have brought long-term bond yields and mortgage rates lower,” Bankrate said in its report. “This decline comes despite the ongoing tapering of bond purchases by the Federal Reserve. Eventually, an improving economy and continued Fed tapering is expected to push mortgage rates higher.”

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