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Mortgage rates surpass 4% for first time since October

The nation’s mortgage rates are catching up with increases in U.S. Treasury bond yields as the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage passed 4% for the first time since the end of October.

The Freddie Mac survey showed the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.08% for the week ending Thursday, up from the prior week’s average of 3.92%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.81%.

The 15-year, fixed-rate home loan, a popular refinancing choice, averaged 3.30%, up from last week when it averaged 3.16%. A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 4.04%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.96%, up from 2.83% the prior week and down from 3.62% a year earlier.

And one-year, Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.84%, growing from last week when it averaged 2.79% and down from 3.21% last year.

“Bond yields rose over the past two weeks in part due to an improving assessment of the state of the economy by the Federal Reserve, better than expected results of commercial bank stress tests and the likelihood of a second bailout for Greece,” said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft. “Meanwhile, consumers continued to reduce their debt burdens in the fourth quarter of 2011.”

Nothaft said homeowners reduced their financial obligations ratio (debt payments as a share of disposable income) to the lowest point since the second quarter of 1994.

Home loan analytics firm Bankrate, which surveys large banks, reported the 30-year FRM rose to 4.29% from 4.15%, while the 15-year FRM rose to 3.48% from 3.38%. The 5/1 ARM rose to 3.24% from 3.14%.

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