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Long-term mortgage rates dip

WASHINGTON >> U.S. long-term mortgage rates slipped this week while remaining at record-low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported today that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan eased to 2.77% from 2.79% last week. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.60% a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular among homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages, declined to 2.21% from 2.23%.

The damage from the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. and global economies suppressed home loan rates through most of last year.

Long-term bond yields, which can influence interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, have climbed recently amid expectations of higher U.S. government spending on pandemic relief and an economic recovery as more people get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Economists forecast modest increases in mortgage rates this year. But they likely will remain relatively low as the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates near zero as needed until the economy recovers, Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said today.

While the rise in mortgage rates is unlikely to derail the bustling housing market, it could make it tougher for would-be homebuyers.

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