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Mortgage Rates Increase as Fed MBS Purchase Program Nears End

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With just one week left before the end of March — and the end of the Federal Reserve’s $1.25trn mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase program — mortgage rates were up in two weekly surveys. Freddie Mac (FRE) said the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 4.99% with an average 0.6 origination point for the week ending March 25, up from last week’s average of 4.96%. A year ago, the rate average was 4.85%. The Bankrate.com survey of large banks and thrifts put the average rate for a 30-year FRM at 5.11% with an average 0.41 origination point, up from last week’s average of 5.07%, but down from last year’s average of 5.19%. “Mortgage rates inched up slightly this week as bond yields rose even further,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. “Interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages, however, were still below 5% for the fourth consecutive week. Freddie said the 15-year FRM averaged 4.34% with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.33%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.58%. Bankrate.com said the 15-year FRM averaged 4.47% with an average 0.41 origination point, up from last week’s average of 4.45%. The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 4.14% with an average 0.6 point, Freddie said, up from last week when it averaged 4.09%, but down from last year’s average of 4.98%. Bankrate.com put the five-year ARM at 4.49% with an average 0.41 point, up from last week’s average of 4.46%. Freddie also said the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.2% with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.12% and down from last year’s average of 4.85%. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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