McCLEAN, Virginia – US long-term mortgage rates hit their highest level since June, even though they remain close to all-time lows.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said on Thursday the average 30-year fixed-rate home loan rate had risen to 3.17%, from 3.09% the week before. A year ago, the benchmark rate was 3.5%.
The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular with those looking to refinance mortgages, rose to 2.45%, from 2.40% last week. It was 2.92% a year ago.
Economists had expected modest increases in mortgage rates this year, although they will likely remain low as the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates close to zero until the economy recovers from the crisis. coronavirus pandemic.
Record lending rates have pushed buyers into the housing market, which has been one of the strengths of the US economy. But a shortage in the supply of housing remains a problem and has pushed prices up.
Also on Thursday, the government said the number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to 684,000, the lowest number since the pandemic began a year ago and a sign that the economy is improving. This is the first time that weekly jobless claims have fallen below 700,000 since mid-March last year.