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Average US rate on 30-year mortgages rises to 3.95 per cent; 15-year loan up to 3.19 per cent

WASHINGTON – Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged higher this week following three straight weeks of declines, amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise its key short-term interest rate next week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.95 per cent from 3.93 per cent a week earlier. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 3.19 per cent from 3.16 per cent.

The key 30-year rate was slightly above its level of a year ago, 3.93 per cent. The rate has increased significantly overall since the end of October, when it stood at 3.76 per cent.

An interest rate hike by the Fed, expected to come at its policymaking meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday, would be the central bank’s first in nearly a decade. The rate has been held at a record low near zero for the past seven years.

The expectations of a Fed increase were bolstered by the release Friday of government data showing that the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in November, more than investors had expected.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond, which mortgage rates have been tracking, rose to 2.21 per cent Wednesday from 2.18 per cent a week earlier. Yields on the U.S. government bonds move in the opposite direction of the bonds’ prices. The yield ticked up to 2.22 per cent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 per cent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.6 point. The fee for a 15-year loan remained at 0.5 point.

The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 3.03 per cent from 2.99 per cent; the fee was unchanged at 0.5 point. The average rate on one-year ARMs increased to 2.64 per cent from 2.61 per cent; the fee declined to 0.2 point from 0.3 point.