Fixed Mortgage Rates Hit Eight-Month High as Inflation Concerns Mount

Growing concern over inflation in the U.S. led fixed and adjustable rate mortgages strongly upward this week, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac (FRE). The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 23 basis points to 6.32 percent, with an average 0.7 point, for the week ended June 12; last year, 30-year FRMs averaged 6.74 percent, Freddie said. It’s been awhile since mortgage rates have been this high; the last time the 30-year FRM was higher was the week ending October 25, 2007, when it averaged 6.33 percent. Rates on other common mortgages jumped as well, Freddie said. Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 5.93 percent with an average 0.6 point this week, up from last week when it averaged 5.65 percent; five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs shot up nearly 20 basis points to 5.70 percent, up from an average of 5.51 percent one week ago. “Mortgage rates jumped this week after a number of Federal Reserve (Fed) officials, most notably Chairman Bernanke and Vice Chair Kohn, expressed concern over a threat of inflation,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “This led some market participants to believe that the Fed will raise rates more aggressively over the year than previously thought.” Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser added more fuel to the fire on Thursday, suggesting that the Fed must act to keep inflationary pressures down. “We can’t control the price of oil directly. We can control the underlying inflation pressures for the economy,” he said in an interview on CNBC. “Once those inflation expectations break out it’s too late. We need to act preemptively to make sure they are contained.” Disclosure: The author held no positions in FRE when this story was originally published. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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