WASHINGTON » Average rates on U.S. fixed mortgages ticked up this week but are still low by historical standards, a trend that has helped the housing market recover.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said today that the average on the 30-year loan rose to 4.39 percent from 4.31 percent last week. Rates are a full percentage point higher than in early May.
The average on the 15-year fixed loan increased to 3.43 percent from 3.39 percent last week.
Rates spiked in June after the Federal Reserve indicated it could slow its bond purchases later this year, which have kept long-term interest rates low.
But on Wednesday the Fed hinted it might hold off because the economy remains sluggish. And it noted for the first time that mortgage rates, which have fueled home sales, "have risen somewhat" from record lows.
Mortgage rates tend to follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has also jumped on speculation that the Fed could slow its stimulus.
Despite the increases, mortgages are still a bargain for those who can qualify. And low rates are helping boost home sales in most markets and driving home prices up.
Home prices jumped 12.2 percent in May compared with a year earlier, according to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday. That’s the biggest annual gain since March 2006.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday 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 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.7 point this week, down from 0.8 point last week. The fee for a 15-year loan also declined to 0.7 point from 0.8 point.
The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage dipped to 2.64 percent from 2.65 percent. The fee was unchanged at 0.4 point.
The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage rose to 3.18 percent from 3.16 percent. The fee declined to 0.6 point from 0.7.