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Rates, Refis Rise

Average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage 5.25%

February 5, 2009

By SAM GARCIA


Stronger-than-expected economic news has pushed mortgage rates higher. Loan applications, fueled by a surge in refinance activity, also increased. But the share of borrowers applying for adjustable-rate mortgages fell to an all-time low.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.25% in the Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending Feb. 5, Freddie Mac reported today. The 30-year leapt from 5.10 seven days earlier but remained below 5.67 percent 12 months earlier.

Better-than-expected economic reports pushed rates higher, Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie, said in the report.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage moved similarly higher, rising to 4.92% from 4.80% a week earlier, Freddie said.

The 10-year Treasury yield -- usually a good indicator of fixed-mortgage rates -- was 2.891% early today, rising from 2.788% a week prior.

Nearly half of the panelists surveyed by Bankrate.com for the week Feb. 5 to Feb. 11 predicted mortgage rates will fall at least 3 basis points during the next 35 to 45 days. Just over one-quarter expected an increase and another quarter saw no changes ahead.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 5.26% this week, easing from 5.27% last week, Freddie's report indicated.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.92, 2 BPS higher than the previous week, according to Freddie. The yield on the one-year Treasury itself was 0.53% yesterday, according to data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. A week earlier, the 1-year yielded 0.48%.

The 6-month London Interbank Offered Rate -- or LIBOR -- was 1.78% yesterday, increasing from 1.68% seven days earlier.

The share of applications that were for ARMs was mostly unchanged from the prior week at 2%, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Jan. 30.

Freddie released an ARM survey last week indicating that initial rates on conforming ARMs are priced 1.76% higher than the fully indexed rate, "the largest rate premium observed since Freddie Mac began collecting ARM data in 1984." Freddie said ARM share was just 3% in December, also the lowest on record. The report noted that ARMs didn't experience the full impact of falling Treasury yields because of rate caps.

MBA also reported that overall loan applications increased 9% on a seasonally adjusted basis, bringing its Market Composite Index to 795.4. While purchase and FHA applications were each down 11%, refinances were 16% higher. The share of applications that were for refinances was about the same as the prior week at 73%.


Sam Garcia worked in mortgage lending for twenty years prior to becoming publisher of MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]


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