Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Mortgage rates held steady this week as economic signals remain decidedly mixed, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac (FRE). The GSE said that its weekly rate survey found that a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.52 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Aug. 14, unchanged from last week when it averaged 6.52 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.62 percent. Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs averaged 6.02 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, off just 3 basis points from one week earlier; one-year ARMs fell 4 basis points. “Mortgage rates held relatively steady for the second week in a row amid offsetting economic data releases,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie. “For instance, consumer credit grew by $14 billion in June, more than twice the market consensus, but retail sales were weaker in July. “News was mixed for the housing market as well. Pending existing home sales unexpectedly rose in June, signaling a possible increase in home sales in July and August, according to the National Association of Realtors. Offsetting that information was the news that commercial banks tightened lending standards even more for prime, nontraditional and subprime mortgages in July according to the Federal Reserve, an action that may dampen further home sales activity going forward.” At HW, we don’t think pending existing home sale rose; we reported last week on what we believe to be the folly of unadjusted month-to-month comparisons, which capture seasonal trends as well as real market trends. On a year-to-year comparison basis, pending sales actually fell nearly 12 percent. For more information, visit Disclosure: The author was long FRE when story was published; indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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