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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Hit a New Year-To-Date Low

May 19, 2011

Fixed-rate mortgages declined for the fifth consecutive week amid mixed economic and housing data, Freddie Mac announced in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to the survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.61 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 19, 2011, down from last week when it averaged 4.63 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.84 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates inched down for the fifth consecutive week as financial markets try to ascertain the current strength of the economy,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist. “Industrial production was unchanged in April owing to disruptions in automobile parts supplies due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Netting out automobiles and gasoline, retail sales rose 0.2 percent in April, which was less than a third of the increase in March and the weakest growth since December 2010. However, consumer confidence, as measured by the University of Michigan, rose above the market consensus in May to the highest reading since February.”

Data on the housing market has been mixed. New construction on single-family homes fell 5.1 percent in April, with the largest declines occurring in the Midwest and South regions where tornados hit the hardest. Homebuilder confidence remained unchanged in May and near its January 2009 historical low, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. However, conventional mortgage applications rose for the past five straight weeks ending May 13th, buoyed by lower mortgage rates and stronger refinancing activity.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.80 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.82 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.24 percent.

Meanwhile, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.48 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.41 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.91 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 3.15 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.11 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 4.00 percent.



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