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Mortgage Rates Offer More Mixed News

Mortgage rates either stayed the same or plunged to record lows, depending on where market watchers obtained their news Thursday. Mortgage giant ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ and personal finance Web site ""Bankrate.com"":http://www.bankrate.com/ released separate figures, with the former seeing a static 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and the latter finding a new bottom for the benchmark loan. The mixed numbers continue trends from last week, as economic worries push more investors to U.S. debt and keep consumers on the sidelines.


Freddie Mac released the Primary Mortgage Market Survey, while Bankrate.com offered up a national weekly mortgage rate index, pooling information from the top 10 banks and thrifts.

The 30-year loan went bottoms up, according to Bankrate.com, which posted a 4.37-percent low, down from 4.41 percent from the week earlier. Mudding the economic recovery waters, Freddie differed by flipping a static number for the benchmark mortgage, which it said remained at 4.22 percent with an average of 0.7 points from last week.

For Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist with Freddie, a lackluster economic recovery fixed rates from last week.

""Weaker economic data reports eased upward pressure on mortgage rates this week and kept them at or near all-time record lows,"" he said in a ""statement"":http://freddiemac.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=12329&item=56124.

""The economy grew at a slower rate of 1 percent in the second quarter than was originally reported due to a smaller increase in inventories and fewer exports,"" he added.


Nothaft also attributed the lack of improvement to a Consumer Confidence Board index that found consumer confidence falling over August to the newest lows since the financial crisis.

Speaking to _MReport_, Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, chalks up rock-bottom mortgages rates to a rush of euro-wary investors to Treasury bonds.

Commenting on wider distress in the economy, he says that ""the ongoing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy is keeping mortgage rates at record low levels. That same uncertainty is also a cause for hesitation for would-be homebuyers.""

Both Freddie and Bankrate.com found the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage plunging. The GSE reported rates falling to 3.39 percent from 3.44 percent at an average 0.6 point, a far cry from the 3.83-percent average the loan achieved at the same time last year. The personal finance Web site recorded a 3.48-percent dip in 15-year loan rates.

The disagreement arose once more between Bankrate.com and Freddie over adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). The GSE saw the 5-year and 1-year ARMs decline to 2.96 percent and 2.89 percent from 3.07 percent and 2.93 percent, respectively. For its part, Bankrate.com witnessed a dip to 3.07 percent for the 5-year ARM, even as the 7-year sauntered back to 3.23 percent.

""Many of the adjustable rate mortgages have initial interest rates so low they're bordering on the ridiculous,"" Bankrate.com said in a ""statement"":http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bankrate-more-record-lows-for-mortgage-rates-2011-09-01. ""While these rates are plenty tempting for borrowers that don't imagine being in the home more than 10 years, some of these loans are now priced in such a way that rates can only go up in the future.""

And when will more borrowers flock to home purchases for still-low mortgage rates?

""The hub on the wheel is job growth,"" McBride says, adding that the highly anticipated jobs report due Friday will ""go a long way toward shaping sentiment about the U.S. economy, for better or worse.""


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