WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly this week but remained near historically low levels.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan ticked up to 4.41 percent from 4.40 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage increased to 3.47 percent from 3.42 percent.
Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.
A report released Tuesday by real estate data provider CoreLogic showed U.S. home prices rose in February from a year earlier at a solid pace, suggesting that a tight supply of available homes is boosting prices despite slowing sales.
Most economists expect home sales to rebound as the weather improves and the spring buying season begins.
The increase in mortgage rates over the year was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Indeed, the Fed has announced three $10 billion declines in its monthly bond purchases since December. The latest plan is to cut its monthly long-term bond purchases to $55 billion because it thinks the economy is steadily healing.
The Fed also said after its two-day policy meeting last month that even after it raises short-term interest rates, the job market strengthens and inflation rises, the central bank expects its benchmark short-term rate to stay unusually low.