30-, 15-Year Mortgage Rates Down 3rd Straight Week

Interest rates on U.S. 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell for a third straight week this week to reach their lowest levels since November amid signals that the economy may be taking a turn for the better, Freddie Mac said on Thursday,

Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages, already at eight-year lows, also edged down, it said.

U.S. 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 6.81 percent in the week ending Feb. 22, down from 6.86 percent last week, while 15-year mortgages dipped to an average 6.28 percent from 6.35 percent.

Thirty- and 15-year mortgage rates have not been lower since the week ended Nov. 23, when they averaged 6.75 percent and 6.24 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, rates on one-year ARMs fell to an average 4.96 percent -- the lowest since a matching 4.96 percent in the April 15, 1994, week -- from 4.98 percent a week ago.

A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 7.12 percent, 15-year mortgages 6.69 percent and ARMs 6.43 percent.

"Leading economic indicators are signaling that the economy is turning around from recession," Robert Van Order, Freddie Mac chief international economist, said in a statement.

"And with inflation coming in at a very tame rate of about 1.1 percent year over year, the prospect of higher mortgage rates is dim indeed," Van Order said.

The Conference Board said earlier Thursday that U.S. January leading indicators rose 0.6 percent -- a fourth straight monthly increase -- after a 1.3 percent jump in December. December's rise was the largest in almost six years.

Also this week the Labor Department said U.S. January consumer prices rose 0.2 percent. January prices were up 1.1 percent from the year-ago month.

Freddie Mac said lenders charged an average 0.7 percent in fees and points on all three types of mortgages, unchanged from a week ago.

Freddie Mac is a corporation chartered by Congress that buys mortgages from lenders and packages them into securities for investors.