WASHINGTON >> Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, breaking a steady climb that pushed them to their highest levels in seven years.
It was the first decline in four weeks in long-term loan rates amid the peak home buying season. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages was 4.56 percent, down from 4.66 percent last week. The average benchmark rate has been running at its highest levels since May 2011. By contrast, the 30-year rate averaged 3.94 percent a year ago.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans dipped to 4.06 percent from 4.15 percent last week.
As tensions mounted over U.S. trade policy and political turmoil in Italy and Spain, prices jumped for long-term U.S. government bonds as investors moved money into lower-risk assets. That depressed the bonds’ yields, and mortgage rates followed suit. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond dropped Wednesday to 2.78 percent, its lowest level since early April and the biggest single-day decline since June 24, 2016, the day after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The key bond’s yield recovered to 2.87 percent Thursday.
Consumers have appeared to shrug off the recent spikes in mortgage rates, as applications for home loans continued to show gains compared with a year earlier, noted Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
U.S. consumer spending best in 5 months
WASHINGTON >> Americans boosted their spending by 0.6 percent in April, the biggest increase in five months and a strong indication that the economy is reviving after a winter slowdown.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that last month’s increase in consumer spending was the largest increase since a 0.7 percent rise in November.
The better-than-expected April gain, which followed a strong 0.5 percent March increase, caused some economists to boost expectations for economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, in the April-June quarter.
“The first two months of the year were downers on the consumer spending front, but spending came back to life in March and April despite rising gasoline pump prices,” said Chris G. Christopher Jr., senior economist at IHS Market.
He said his forecast for second-quarter economic growth is now at 4 percent. That would be the strongest quarterly growth in four years and a significant rebound from a modest 2.3 percent gain in the first quarter.
ON THE MOVE
Hawaii State Federal Credit Union has announced the following appointment and re-election:
>> Monica Toguchi Ryan has been appointed to the credit union’s board of directors. Toguchi Ryan is the third-generation owner of Highway Inn and has extensive experience in operating and developing growth opportunities for small businesses.
>> Ryan Morita was re-elected for his second term and has been appointed the board’s chairman. Morita works in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Renewable Energy Branch.
Bowers + Kubota, a 100 percent employee-owned kamaaina architectural/engineering firm based in Hawaii, has hired Marween Ibanez, project engineer; Wayne Lorenzo, IT coordinator; and Henry Wendt, senior project manager.