Freddie: Fixed Mortgage Rates Slide As Indicators Mixed

By Drew FitzGerald

Published May 19, 2011| Dow Jones Newswires

The interest on fixed-rate mortgages edged down for the fifth straight week to hit a new low this year, as mixed indicators from the housing market and broader economy sent the markets muddled signals, according to the latest survey from Freddie Mac (FMCC).

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said fixed rates were falling slightly as financial markets tried to judge the strength of the economy. Industrial production lay flat in April due to auto-parts supplier disruptions caused by the earthquake disaster in Japan, while retail sales excluding automobiles and gasoline grew at the slowest rate since last December. Meanwhile, consumer confidence, as measured by the University of Michigan, rose in May to the highest reading since February.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.61% for the week ended Thursday, down from 4.63% the prior week and 4.84% a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were 3.80%, down from 3.82% the previous week and 4.24% a year earlier.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.48%, up from 3.41% the prior week and down from 3.91% a year earlier. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs reached 3.15%, up from 3.11% the prior week and down from 4% a year earlier.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages required an average payment of 0.7 point, while adjustable mortgages required 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

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