WASHINGTON – Long-term US mortgage rates barely budged this week, after marking their first increase of the year last week.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans was unchanged from last week at an average 4.19 percent. That was still sharply higher than a 30-year rate that averaged 3.65 percent for all of 2016, the lowest level recorded from records going back to 1971. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.72 percent.
The average for a 15-year mortgage ticked up to 3.41 percent from 3.40 percent last week.
After meeting this week, Federal Reserve policymakers left the key interest rate unchanged at a time of solid economic gains but also heightened uncertainty surrounding the new Trump administration. At the same time, the Fed pointed to improved sentiment among consumers and businesses.
Many economists think the Fed will put off further rate increases until more is known about President Donald Trump's ambitious agenda, or whether his drive to cancel or rewrite trade deals will slow growth or unsettle investors.
Mortgage rates surged in the weeks following Trump's election in early November. Investors in Treasury bonds bid yield rates higher because they believed his plans for tax cuts and higher spending on roads, bridges and airports will drive up economic growth and inflation.
But mortgage rates reversed course in the first week of the year, falling after nine straight weeks of increases.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for a 30-year mortgage rose this week to 0.5 point from 0.4 point. The fee on 15-year loans also increased to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.
Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.23 percent from 3.20 percent. The fee remained at 0.4 point.