The nation’s average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate dipped back below 4% on weaker housing economic indicators.

The Freddie Mac survey showed the 30-year, FRM averaged 3.99% for the week ending Thursday, down from the prior week’s average of 4.08%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.86%.

The decline in rates doesn’t do much to bolster Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft’s prediction on Wednesday. He said he expects the 30-year FRM to increase to 4.5% throughout the year, citing various economic indicators such as housing starts and new home sales.

The 15-year, fixed-rate home loan, a popular refinancing choice, averaged 3.23%, down from last week when it averaged 3.30%. A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 4.09%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.90%, down from 2.96% the prior week and down from 3.62% a year earlier.

And one-year, Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.78%, growing from last week when it averaged 2.84% and down from 3.26% last year.

After saying Wednesday that the housing market is beginning to shake off the Depression-like shackles that have plagued it for years, Nothaft referenced weaker housing economic indicators in explaining the rate slide.

“The S&P/Case Shiller 20-City composite home price index slid in January to its lowest reading since December 2002,” Nothaft said. “In addition, new home sales declined 0.5% in February, below the market consensus of an increase, and pending existing home sales also declined for the month.”

Home loan analytics firm Bankrate, which surveys large banks, reported the 30-year FRM fell to 4.23% from 4.30%, while the 15-year FRM fell to 3.44% from 3.48%. The 5/1 ARM inched down to 3.14% from 3.15%.


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