WASHINGTON >> U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages changed little this week, remaining at historically low levels that have sparked demand for homes.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan ticked up to 2.93% from 2.91% last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.49% a year ago.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined, however, to 2.42% from 2.46% last week.
Housing demand continues as one of few bright spots in the pandemic-hobbled economy. Sales of new homes soared in July, rising nearly 14% as the market continued to gain traction following the spring downturn caused by pandemic- forced lockdowns.
In the wider economy, the government reported Thursday that the number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week — evidence that the pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs.